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As tlie introductory volume of a series, it is the purpose 
of this book to deal not only with the specific subjects men- 
tioned in the title, but also with the general condition of 
the Navy at the outbreak of the War, the peculiar difficul- 
ties before it, and the way in which the difficulties were 
met. In this connection it has been necessary to touch 
incidentally upon matters that are the subject of animated 
controversy in the Navy at the present moment. Such a re- 
ference to actual questions cannot be avoided, if the lessons 
of the War are to be fairly and fearlessly regarded. 

For statements of fact, reliance has been chiefly placed 
upon the written accounts, official or unofficial, of those 
who took part in the events recorded. In describing the 
operations of the blockade-i-unners, the narratives of Maf- 
fitt, Eoberts, and Wilkinson have been largely used. Fi- 
nally, the writer must acknowledge his obligations to many 
kind friends, both in and out of the service, who have aided 
hiTin with valuable advice and suggestions. 



List of Maps, . ix 

The Preparations, 1 

The Blockade 26 

The Chesapeake, 47 

The Atlantic Squadrons, 83 

The Gulf Squadrons, 131 

The Blockade-Runners, 153 




The Commkrce-Dbstroybrs 168 

Conclusion, . • 381 

Vessels of the United States Navy, March 4, 1861, . 241 


Vessels Constructed or Projected, 1861-65, . . 244 


Instructions prom Flag-Oppicer Uoldsborough to 
Oppicers Commanding Blockading Vessels, . . 251 


In marking the channels in all the maps in this volume the twelve- 
foot curve has been followed. The dotted surface therefore represents 
a depth of twelve feet or less. 

The Blockaded Coast, . 
Hampton Roads, 

Entbances to Cape Fear Riveb, 
Entrances to Charleston Harbor, 
Passes of the Mississippi, 
Entrance to Mobile Bat, 
Galveston Harbor and Entrance. 

to face 36 

- 50 
, 93 
. 106 
. 137 
. 133 
. 145 




The Naval War of 1861 was marked by two principal feat- 
ures. The first is tliat while one side had a small force 
of naval vessels, which were generally good of their kind, 
the other entered the contest with absolutely nothing that 
could be called a man-of-war. The second is that though 
certain developments in the character and construction of 
ships and of weapons had been foreshadowed before the war, 
and had even been partially realized, it was while the strug- 
gle was actually in progress that changes took place in these 
respects which amounted to a revolution in naval warfare. 
At the beginning the fact that sailing vessels were soon to 
be laid aside was still far from general recognition, espe- 
cially among officers of conservative tendencies; the three 
great weapons of to-day, the rifled gun, the ram, and the 
torpedo, were almost unknown in the service ; and iron 
armor was still an experiment. The modifications of the 
past fifteen years had accustomed men's minds to the idea 
that considerable changes would gradually take place ; but 
none foresaw or were prepared for the tremendous develop- 
ment that was wrought in four years of actual fighting. 
I.— 1 1 


Modem naval warfare was therefore almost a new art to 
the officers that were called in 1861 into active service. The 
long period of profound peace that followed the wars of 
Napoleon had been broken only by the war with Mexico in 
1846, the Crimean War in 1854, and the Franco-Austrian 
War in 1859. None of these was marked by naval operations 
on any important scale, and such operations as there were 
indicated but faintly the coming development. In the con- 
test with Mexico, steamers were used in war for the first 
time ; but the enemy was so destitute of naval resources 
that their overwhelming importance was not fully recog- 
nized. The operations of the navy were confined to the 
attack of imperfectly-fortified points on the seaboard, and to 
blockading a country that had no commercial importance. 
The Crimean War advanced a step farther. The destruction 
of the Turkish fleet at Sinope, in 1853, showed the effective- 
ness of horizontal shell-firing, as invented by Paixhans, 
while the success of the Freilch ironclads at Kinburn led 
the way to the practice of casing ships-of-war in armor. In 
1858 experiments were made at Portsmouth with the Erebus 
and Meteor, two lightly-armored floating batteries ; and 
these were followed, in France and in England, by the 
Gloire and the Warrior, veritable ironclad cruisers. But 
the new system was still in its experimental stage ; and it 
was left to the war of 1861 to show clearly its practical 

The application of armor to the sides of vessels was accom- 
panied, or rather induced, by improvements in ordnance, 
especially by the introduction of rifled guns in Europe and 
of the heavy cast-iron smooth-bores of Dahlgren in America. 
Both these improvements, however, were of recent date. 
The first successful employment of rifled cannon in actual 
war was made by the French in the Italian campaign of 


1859 ; while the heavy Dahlgren guns had hardly been ten 
years in use, and were sbill undergoing development. 

In regard to the ram, though seemingly a paradox, it may 
be said that its employment in naval warfare was so ancient 
that in 1861 it was really a new weapon. Its revival was a 
direct consequence of the application of steam to the propul- 
sion of vessels. The Greeks and Eomans had used it in 
their galley-flghts with destructive effect ; and it was only 
displaced by heavy guns when oars were displaced by sails, 
when ships no longer fought end-on, but broadside to broad- 
side, and when the close-hauled line ahead took the place of 
the direct attack in line abreast, of the old galley tactics. 
The introduction of steam, by giving ships-of-war a motive 
power under their own control, independent of the action of 
the wind — an advantage similar to that which the triremes 
possessed in their banks of oars — revived the trireme's mode 
of attack, and made the ram once more an effective weapon. 
But in 1861 this phase of naval development had not been 
recognized, and the sinking of the Cumberland, in March of 
the next year, first revealed the addition that steam had made 
to the number and variety of implements of destruction. 

Torpedoes, though of more recent introduction than rams, 
were not wholly new weapons. The idea of the torpedo, 
first discovered by Bushnell, and developed by Fulton, was 
rejected by the English Government in 1805, because it was 
recognized as giving an advantage to a weak navy over a 
powerful one, and its adoption could only iinpair the mari- 
time supremacy of Great Britain. On account of this ad- 
vantage which the torpedo gave to the weaker side, it was 
brought into use by the Eussians in the Crimea, and, though 
none of the allied vessels were destroyed by its agency, it 
none the less contributed appreciably to the protection of 
Russian harbors. But its gresit importance was not estab- 


lished ttntil the Civil War, and then only in the second year. 
The Confederates took it up for the same reason that the 
Eussians had adopted it in 1854) and the English had re- 
jected it in 1805. Driven by the poverty of their naval 
resources to the use of every device that ingenuity could 
suggest, in the fall of 1862 they established a bureau at 
Krichmond to elaborate and systematize torpedo warfare ; 
and the destruction of the Housatonic, the Tecumseh, the 
Patapsco, and many smaller vessels, showed the tremendous 
power of the newly adopted weapon. 

From the fact that the navy at this period was concerned 
with an essentially living and growing science, it was impor- 
tant that its oflScers, above all in the senior grades, should be 
men of progressive minds and of energetic and rapid action. 
Especially was this the case when the navy found itself 
upon the threshold of a great war, in which every variety 
of naval operation was to be attempted, and evei-y contriv- 
ance of mechanical art was to be employed. No doubt 
a war always brings new men to the front, irrespective of 
rank or age. But the main object of a navy's existence in 
time of peace is to be in a condition of instant readiness for 
war, and this object can only be attained by having the 
ablest. and most energetic men in the foremost places. Un- 
less such a provision is made, and made before war begins 
the possibilities of naval development will be neglected • 
the vigor and .audacity that should mark the earlier opera- 
tions of a war will be wanting ; and the opportunity of strik- 
ing sharp and sudden blows at the outset will be lost. 

Unfortunately, in 1861, the arrangement of the navy list 
failed to meet this essential condition of readiness for active 
operations. Long years of peace, the unbroken course of 
seniority promotion, and the absence of any provision for 
retirement, had filled the highest grade with gallant veter- 


ans, most of wtom had reached an age that unfitted them 
for active service afloat. At the head of the list -were the 
seventy-eight captains. A few of them were men of com- 
manding talents, and t^ese few left their mark upon the 
records of the war. Of the rest, some had obtained distinc- 
tion in an earlier period of their career. But it is only in 
exceptional men that the physical and mental vigor is to be 
found that i;esists the enfeebling influences of advancing 
years; and it would be unjust to expect the active opera- 
tions of War to be successfully carried on by a body of com- 
manding ofScers most of whom had passed their sixtieth 

This was, however, only one of the difficulties of the situ- 
ation. The excessive accumulation of older ofiicers at the 
head of the list was felt as a heavy drag all the way down 
to the foot. Promotion was blocked, as there was no pro- 
vision for retirement ; and the commanders and lieutenants, 
many of whom were conspicuous for ability and energy, 
were stagnating in subordinate positions. The commanders 
at the head of the list were between flfty-eight and sixty 
years of age — a time of life at which few men are useful for 
active service. The tipper lieutenants were forty-eight or 
flfty^-some indeed were ,past fifty — and very few were in 
command of vessels, as there were two hundred officers 
above them. The flrst-lieutenant of the Hartford, at that 
time the flagship of the East India squadron, had been 
thirty-four years in the service. He and his contemporaries, 
who had entered the navy at sixteen or thereabout, had not 
yet risen to the responsibilities of command. This enforced 
continuance in subordinate stations could not fail to tell 
upon even the best men. The tendency of such a system is 
to make mere routine men, and to substitute apathy and in- 
dolence for zeal and energy. If a man that has had proper 


training is not fit for command at thirty-six, it is not likely 
that he will ever be fit for it. If he has reached the point 
of fitness, every year of postponement, unless he is a very 
extraordinary man, is a year of deterioration. 

The efficiency of the service was further weakened by^the 
vicious system of promotion by seniority, to which the navy 
has always clung tenaciously, in the face of reason and 
precedent, of the analogies of civil preferment, and the ex- 
ample of other military and naval establishments. The 
defects of this system may be briefly indicated. Every man 
who lives long enough, unless gross incompetency can be 
proved against him, goes to the head of the list, while those 
who have entered the service later, however much they may 
excel in ability or zeal, remain below to wait their turn. It 
is purely a question of survival. An officer comes to look 
upon promotion as his right, apart from any considerations 
of merit or distinction. Public opinion in the service has 
no leaders, for the leading minds are not destined, as they 
would be in every, other pi'ofession, to gravitate to the lead- 
ing positions. They simply take their turn. The natural 
conservatism of a military body is exaggerated, and judg- 
ment becomes warped by tradition. As promotion is sure, 
there is no inducement to effort. No one will readily as- 
sume responsibility, for he only runs a risk without any 
prospect of reward. It is not so much the presence of poor 
material that injures a service, as its elevation by an iron 
rule of promotion, and the enforced subordination of more 
capable men. As the Secretary of the Navy in 1855 tersely 
put it, " It is neither more nor less than elevating the in- 
competent, and then ordering the unpromoted competent to 
do their work." 

It became evident, shortly after the war began, that steps 
must be taken to remedy the existing state of things ; but 


notking could be done at once, and it was only in Decem- 
ber, 1861, that a law was passed retiring all officers at the 
age of sixty-two, or after forty-five years of service. By the 
same law, any captain or commander might be selected for 
the command of a squadron, with the rank of flag-officer, 
which should give him authority over his seniors in the 
squadron. Another act' passed in the following summer, 
created the grades of rear-admiral and commodore, recast 
the whole corps of officers, and established promotion by se- 
lection temporarily in the highest grade. These measures, 
though late in coming, had the desired effect. The veterans 
were gradually replaced by younger men ; the commanders 
and lieutenants were raised to the places they were qualified 
to fill ; and new life was infused into the service. 

But the spirit of routine had for thirty years pervaded the 
naval establishment, and the change could not be effected in 
a day. The whole tendency of the navy had been to pre- 
serve traditions, and to repress individuality in the junior 
officers. Men thought alike, talked alike, and acted alike. 
The officers in active service, grown old in the lower grades, 
and but little encouraged to exercise their powers of volition, 
had come to regard themselves as parts of a machine, and to 
wait for the orders of their superior. ' As a general thing, 
the assumption of responsibility was neither desired nor 
permitted ; and the subordinate who presumed, even in an 
emergency, to act upon his own judgment, was apt to bring 
down upon himself official censure. It is related of one of 
the captains at the battle of New Orleans, a man of unques- 
tioned courage, that when he fell in with the Manassas, he 
hailed ship after ship to obtain an order from the admiral 
to run her down. Nor was this an extreme case. As it hap- 
pened, the character of the war was such as to call especially 
for self-reliance, resolute action, readiness of resource, and 


the exercise of individual jiidgmeiit. But confirmed habits 
are not easily shaken off; and the operations of the first two 
years show from time to time the persistence of old tradi- 
tions. Nothing short of a complete upheaval of the service 
brought about the needful change ; commanders became 
admirals by a single step ; and junior officers became first- 
lieutenants of the ships in which they were serving as mid- 
shipmen. Finally, when the great leaders came into posi- 
tions of active command, their encouragement and approval 
of individual enterprise gave to their juniors the oppoi-tuni- 
ties of which the latter were only too eager to avail them- 

It was another unfortunate feature of the situation, that 
while there was a superabundance of old officers, there was 
a deficiency in the junior grades. Below the lieutenants 
there were less than a hundred masters and midshipmen. 
These, together with a dozen of the younger lieutenants, 
were graduates of the Naval Academy ; and their service 
during the war showed the value of their thorough training. 
To fill the gap at the foot of the list the three upper classes 
of acting midshipmen were ordered from the Academy into 
active service. Most of these were mere boys. They found 
themselves, with only the experience of two or three years 
at the Naval School, suddenly placed in positions of difficulty 
and responsibility. Many of them were lieutenants at nine- 
teen ; but no better work was done in the naval war than 
that which was placed in the hands of these lads from the 

The deficiency of officers was increased by the resignation 
or dismissal of those who took side with the South. There 
were 322 of these of all grades and corps, and among them 
were several of marked ability. But even without the losses 
occasioned by retirement and by resignation, the number of 


officers would have been wholly insuffioient to meet the de- 
mands of the war. Volunteers were called for, and great 
numbers entered the service. There were appointed al- 
together about 7,500. The regular officers formed only 
one-seventh of the whole service ; but in general they filled 
the most important positions. The additions to the line of 
the navy were composed of a great variety of. material. 
Some were merchant captains and mates of experience ; 
others had never been at sea. Those employed on the 
Mississippi were chiefly steamboat men and pilots. Many 
of them were capable and gallant men, who, though unused 
to the handling of guns and the discipline of a military 
service, conducted themselves honorably and acquitted 
themselves with credit. As a class, the volunteers were an 
indispensable addition to the naval force, and rendered 
valuable service. Without the least reflection upon their 
good qualities, it may be said that their efficiency would 
have been increased by a previous military training. But 
no attempt had ever been made to foim a reserve for the 
navy ; and the administration was fortunate when it secured 
any nautical experience, although military training might be 
wholly wanting. 

Great as was the want of officers, the want of trained sea- 
men was equally great. The complement of the navy had 
been fixed at 7,600. Of these there were on March 10, 1861, 
only 207 in all the ports and receiving-ships on the Atlantic 
coast. It was a striking illustration of the improvidence of 
naval legislation and administration, that in a country of 
thirty millions of people only a couple of hundred were at 
the disposal of the Navy Department. Seamen could not be 
had either to man the ships that might be commissioned, or 
to protect the exposed stations at Annapolis and Norfolk. 
Prompt measures were taken during the first year to in- 
I.— 1* 


crease the force ; and later, a great expansion took place. 
In July, 1863, there were 34,000 men in the service. But at 
all times there was a difificulty in obtaining trained seamen. 
Large bounties were offered by State and local authorities 
for enlistment in the army, and transfers between the two 
services were not authorized by law. When the draft was 
established, mariners were subjected to it like other citi- 
zens, without any regard to the service which they would 
prefer, or for which they might be specially fitted. In as- 
signing the quotas to each locality, no allowance was made 
to maritime communities for the seamen they had furnished ; 
so that they were forced, in self-defence, to send their sea- 
, faring population into the army. In 1864, a law was passed 
correcting these evils ; but meantime the navy suffered, and 
vessels were occasionally unable to go to sea for want of 
men. As the necessities of the service grew more pressing, 
the number of men in the navy increased. To obtain them, 
it was necessary to hold out extraordinary inducements ; and 
in the last months, bounties as high as one thousand dollars 
were offered and paid for a single seaman. When the war 
ended, there were 51,500 men in the service. 

Nothing shows more forcibly the dependence of the navy 
upon the merchant marine for recruiting its ranks in time of 
war than the enormous additions both of oflScers and seamen 
that took place between 1861 and 1865. It is from the mer- 
chant marine that such reinforcements must always be 
chiefly drawn. To fill the cadres of the army a well-trained 
and organized militia stands always ready, at least in many 
of the States ; but no steps have ever been taken toward es- 
tablishing a sea-militia, even since its importance has been 
demonstrated by the war. A trained reserve force is a 
greater necessity for the navy than for the army, not because 
the one service is more important than the other, but be- 


cause its ranks are less easily recruited. It may be said 
that drill will make any man a soldier, while a special train- 
ing is required to make an eificient man-of-war's man. The 
army is purely a military profession; the navy combines 
two professions — each an occupation by itself— the military 
and the nautical. Hence the greater necessity for the navy 
of a large body of trained ofHcers; and hence, also, the 
greater importance of a partially-trained naval reserve. 

In mat&iel, the navy was by no means in a backward con- 
dition. The wise policy, begun before the estiiblishment of 
the Navy Department, of building vessels which should be 
the best possible specimens of their class, had been steadily 
adhered to ; and in war-ship construction the United States 
still held, and continued to hold until 1867, a place very 
near the highest. When the importance of steam as a mo- 
tive power had become established, the early side-wheelers 
were built, — first the Mississippi and Missouri, and later the 
Powhatan, Susquehanna, and Saranac. The Powhatan and 
Susquehanna, at the time they were launched, in 1850, were 
the most efficient naval vessels afloat. Next came the six 
'screw-frigates, which were built in 1855, and were regarded 
aU the world over as the model men-of-war of the period. 
Of these the largest was the Niagara. The other iive, the 
Boanoke, Colorado, Merrimao, Minnesota, and Wabash, 
were vessels of a little over three thousand tons; and they 
carried, for their day, a powerful battery. Again, in 1858, 
twelve screw-sloops of two classes were built, most of which 
were admirable vessels, though they were wanting, with a 
few exceptions, in the important quality of speed. The first 
class, vessels of about two thousand tons, included the Lan- 
caster, Hartford, Richmond, Brooklyn, and Pensacola. The 
second class, of which the Pawnee and Iroquois were the 
largest, were also serviceable vessels. Finally, in February, 


1861, Congress had made appropriation for seven new screw- 
sloops, wliich were intended to be as efficient as their pre- 

But these measures, well-judged though they were, were 
only a iirst step in the general conversion of the naval force 
from sailing vessels into steamers. Of the ninety names 
borne on the Navy Register in 1861, fifty were those of ves- 
sels of the older type — ships-of-the-line, frigates, sloops, and 
brigs. Several of the liners were still on the stocks, never 
having been completed. The others were notable ships in 
their day, but their day was past and gone forever. The 
list of frigates was headed by the Constitution and the 
United States, built originally in the last century, and ren- 
dered famous by the victories of 1812. Others had been 
built within a more recent period, but the type had not been 
materially altered. The frigates were useful as receiving 
and practice-ships ; but as far as war-service was concerned, 
they had only a historic value. But little more could be 
said of the sloops and brigs ; and the remainder of the sail- 
ing fleet were store-ships. 

Though swelling the total of ships-of-war to a considerable ' 
figure, the sailing vessels added little or nothing to the effi- 
ciency of the force. This fact explains, in some degree, the 
inadequacy of the navy at the beginning of the war. A 
change had taken place about fifteen years before in the 
motive power of ships, so radical that all the constructions 
of an earlier date were completely superseded. In 1840 the 
navy was stronger for its day than in 1860 ; because in 1840 
all its ships were ships of the period, while in 1860 only 
half the fleet could be so regarded. The distance in time 
that separated the second Macedonian from the Powhatan 
was not much greater than that between the Powhatan and 
the Hartford ; yet in the first case the change was a revolu- 


tion, ■while in the second it was only a development. A 
captain that fought the Invincible Armada ■would have been 
more at home in the typical war-ship of 1840, than the aver- 
age captain of 1840 could have been at that time in the ad- 
vanced types of the Civil War. As a matter of fact, it was no 
uncommon thing in 1861 to find ofBcers in command of 
steamers who had never served in steamers before, and who 
were far more anxious about their boilers than about their 
enemy. As naval science had advanced more in the last 
twenty-five years than in the two hundred years preceding, 
more than half the vessels on the navy list had become sud- 
denly useless, and the eifective force was narrowed down to 
the forty that had steam as a motive power. 

Another fact which helped to account for the want of 
preparation in 1861 was the supineness of the Navy De- 
partment during the last months of Buchanan's administra- 
tion. Few wars come on without some note of warning ; 
and this was no exception. The effective force, small as it 
was, might easily have been so disposed as to be ready for 
an emergency, without even exciting comment. The failui'e 
to take the necessary measures need not, however, be im- 
puted to a treacherous sympathy with the insurgents. It 
was only a part of the general policy of inaction, deliberately 
adopted by the Government during the winter of 1860-61, 
which forbade any measures pointing even remotely to co- 
ercion. The most ordinary preparations were neglected; 
and if the crippling of the fleet had been intentional, it 
could not have been more effectual. 

Of the forty steamers included in the general list, five 
were unserviceable, two of them being still on the stocks, 
and the others useless except as receiving-ships. Two more 
were mere tugs, and, together with the Michigan, sta- 
tioned on the lakes, may be thrown out of the calculation. 



Eight others, including the five frigates, were laid up in 
ordinary. There remained twenty-four steamers, whose dis- 
position on the ith of March was as follows : 





C San Jacinto . . 

Returning from Japan. 
Coast of Africa. 


Pacific. / 
Home Squadron (Pen' 

Five screw-sloops (Ist class). 



East Indies. 

Richmond . . . 



[■ Susquehanna . 



Home Squadron (re- 

Three side-wheel steamers . . 

turning from Vera 



f Mohican 

Coast nf Africa. 

Narragansett . 





Eight screw-sloops (3d class). 



East ;^dies. 

Pocahontas . . . 

Home Squadron (re- 
turning from Vera 


Coast of Brazil. 

Wyandotte. .. 

Home Squadron (Pen- 

Five screw steamers (3d class) 



New York. 
New York. 


Coast of Africa. 

_ Mystic 

Coast of Africa. 

Two side-wheel steamers 

I Pulaski 

1 Saginaw 

Bast Indies. 

It will be obsei-ved that of the twelve vessels composing 
the Home Squadron, seven were steamers; and of these 
only three, the Pawnee, Mohawk, and Crusader, were in 
northern ports and at the immediate disposal of the new ad- 
ministration. The best part of the fleet was scattered all 
over the world. 

In the matter of ordnance, as in ships, the navy had been 
making active progress. In the old sailing vessels, the 


32-pounder, wMcli was simply a development of the 18s and 
24s of 1812, and the Vlll-incli shell-gun were still the usual 
guns. Sino^ 1850, the powerful Dahlgren smooth-bore shell- 
guns had been introduced, and the new steam-frigates and 
sloops were armed with them. The IX-inch guns of this 
description were mounted in broadside, and the Xl-inch 
(with a few X-inch) on pivots. The powers of the Xl-inch 
had not been fully tested, and the prescribed service-charge 
was smaller than it was afterward found that the gun would 
bear. The latest development of the smooth-bore gun was 
the XV-inch, one of which was generally mounted in each 
monitor turret. Rifled guns were gradually introduced dur- 
ing the war. These were chiefly Parrott guns, 20-, 30-, and 
100-pounders. They were cast-iron guns, strengthened by a 
wrought-iron band around the breech. Later, 60-pounders 
and 150-pounders were manufactured. The Parrott gun of 
the smaller calibres was serviceable, but as a heavy gun it 
was dangerous, and occasionally burst. Besides the Parrott 
guns, a few light cast-iron Dahlgren rifles were made ; and 
in the Western flotilla, when it was transferred to the navy, 
there were several army rifled 42-pounders, which were so 
dangerous as to be nearly useless. 

The demands of the new service were many and various. 
There was the river service, where the navy acted largely in 
co-operation with the army, in the reduction of fortified 
points, and in opening and keeping open the lines of com- 
munication. For this the essential qualification was light 
draft. It needed small handy vessels, capable of approach- 
ing the shore, and of passing through shallow and difficult 
channels. Quite distinct from it was the ocean service, 
which meant the pursuit and capture of Confederate cruisers, 
and of vessels engaged in illegal trade. The prime neces- 
sity here was speed. Lastly, there was the coast service, 


comprising the maintenance of the blockade, and detached 
operations against fortifications protected by powerful bat- 
teries. The blockade required vessels that combined both 
speed and light draft, together with seaworthiness, and a 
certain degree of force to resist the sudden attacks which 
were made from time to time, in the hope of raising the 
blockade, or what was perhaps of equal importance, of in- 
ducing a belief abroad that such a result had been accom- 
plished. The attack of fortified harbors, on the other hand, 
though from the nature of things carried on in connection 
with the blockade, called for an entirely different type of 
vessel. Here, force pure and simple, was needed ; force of- 
fensive and defensive, heavy guns and heavy armor. 

For all these kinds of service, vessels were required, and 
vessels in great numbers. A small force could accomplish 
nothing. The operations on the Mississippi and its tribu- 
taries alone, operations which were second to none in extent 
and efficiency, and carried on wholly in the enemy's country, 
required a large fleet. For the ocean service, the vessels, to 
accomplish their object, must Tje numerous ; while a very 
few served every purpose of the enemy. It was easy for 
the half-dozen commerce-destroyers to catch merchantmen, 
with which every sea was filled, while it was a very difficult 
matter to catch the half-dozen commerce-destroyers. Sim- 
ilarly, the blockade service required vessels at every port 
and inlet ; otherwise it was not even legal, to say nothing of 
its being ineffective. 

In meeting the wants of the navy, the new administration 
proceeded with energy. All the ships on foreign stations, 
except three, were recalled. Measures were taken at once 
to increase the force by fitting out all the serviceable vessels 
that were laid up, by building in navy yards, and in private 
yards on contract, and by purchase in the open market. The 


difficulties were great, for the force required was enormous ; 
and there were neither officers, men, ships, nor guns availa- 
ble, nor authority to procure them. Ship-owners had failed 
to see that steamers were to supplant sailing-vessels for 
commercial purposes, and though the merchant marine was 
still considerable, it had not been modernized. Nor had 
any systematic plan been adopted, by which a Government 
inspection might secure the construction of merchant vessels, 
imperfectly perhaps, yet in some degree adapted for con- 
version into men of war. Indeed, ia the absence of a de- 
mand, ship-builders were not prepared to supply steamers 
of any kind to a considerable extent. The number of ma- 
chine-shops was small — from twenty to. thirty at the most — 
and their plant only equal to the ordinary work of the con- 
struction and repair of machinery. There were not more than 
eight of these of any considerable size ; and, in the sudden 
demand for locomotives and transports for the army and for 
marine engines for the navy, they were strained to the utmost. 
Five distinct measures were immediately adopted for the 
increase of the naval force. The first was to buy everythiug 
afloat that could be made of service. Purchases were made 
directly by the Department, or by officers acting under its 
direction. By the 1st of July, twelve steamers had been 
bought, . and nine were employed under charter. Subse- 
quently it appeared that the business of purchasing, being 
a purely mercantile matter, might be suitably placed in the 
hands of a business man, who should act as the responsible 
agent, of the Department in conducting the transactions. 
This plan was adopted in July. Each purchase was in- 
spected by a board of officers, and in this way the Depart- 
ment was enabled to secure, as far as any such were to be 
found, suitable vessels at a suitable price. The board of in- 
spection could not exact a very high degree of excellence or 


fitness, because everything afloat that could in any way be 
made to answer a purpose was pi'essed into the service. The 
vessels were of all sizes and descriptions, from screw-steamers 
and side-wheelers of two thousand tons to ferry-boats and 
tugs. Some of the larger steamers were fast vessels and 
made eflScient cruisers. The Connecticut, the Cuyler, the 
De Soto, and the Santiago de Cuba paid for their cost 
several times over in the prizes they captured. The ma- 
jority of the purchased steamers were between one hundred 
and eight hundred tons. Some of the least promising of 
these improvised men-of-war did good service against 
blockade-runners. The steamer Circassian, one of the 
most valuable prizes made during the wai-, was captured 
outside of Havana by a Fulton ferry-boat. Even for fighting 
purposes, however, the ferry-boats, with their heavy guns, 
were by no means to be despised. There were purchased 
altogether up to December, 1 861, 79 steamers and 58 sailing 
vessels, 137 in all. The number of vessels bought during 
the whole war amounted to 418, of which 313 were steamers. 
After the war was over, they were rapidly sold, at less than 
half their cost. 

The second measure adopted by the administration was 
the construction of sloops-of-war. Seven of these had been 
authorized by Congress in February, but the Department 
resolved to build eight, assigning two to each navy yard. 
Four of these vessels, the Oneida, Kearsarge, Wachusett, 
and Tuscarora, were reproductions of three of the sloops of 
1858, which made the work of construction quicker and easier 
the designs being already prepared. In the latter part of 
1861, eight additional sloops were built, of the same general 
class, but larger. All these fourteen sloops, like their models 
of two years before, were excellent vessels, and several of 
them are still in the service as second-rates and third-rates. 


The third measure adopted by the Department, on its own 
responsibility, without WMting for the action of Congress, 
was to contract with private parties for the construction of 
small, heavily armed screw-gunboats. Twenty-three of these 
were built, of which the Unadilla and Pinola may be regarded 
as types. They were of five hundred and seven tons each, 
and mounted from four to seven guns. Some of them, 
within four months from the date of contract, were afloat, 
armed, and manned, and took part in the battle of Port 
Koyal. From their rapid construction, they were commonly 
known as the " ninety-day gunboats." Nine of them were in 
Farragut's fleet at the passage of the forts below New Or- 
leans. They were an important addition to the navy, and 
were actively employed both in fighting and blockading dur- 
ing the whole war. 

For service in the rivers and in narrow sounds and chan- 
nels, still another class of vessels was needed. To meet this 
w.3,nt, a fourth measure was adopted, by building twelve pad- 
dle-wheel steamers, three or four hundred tons larger than 
the gunboats, but still small vessels, and of very light 
draft. To avoid the necessity of turning, they were pro- 
vided with a double bow, and a rudder at each end. These 
were the famous " double-enders." The first twelve were 
the so-called Octorara class. Twenty-seven larger vessels of 
the same type were afterwards built, composing the Sassacus 
class. The Wateree, a vessel of the same size and gen- 
eral design, was built of iron. Finally the Mohongo class, 
also of iron, consisted of seven double-enders of still larger 
size, and carrying a heavier armament. The Ashuelot ' and 
Monocacy still represent this class in the service. 

The fifth and last measure for the increase of the naval 

1 News of the Iobb of the Ashuelot is received as this volume is going to press. 


force was the construction of ironclads. Congress had 
passed, at the extra session in August, an appropriation of a 
million and a half dollars for armored vessels, to be built 
upon plans approved by a board of oiHcers. The board was 
composed of three of the ablest captains in the service. 
Smith, Paulding, and Davis. Out of a large number of 
plans proposed, three were selected by the board and or- 
,dered by the Department. Upon these plans were built the 
New Ironsides, the Galena, and the Monitor. 

Most of the measures, as outlined above, refer to the first 
year of the war ; but these five types of vessels, converted 
merchantmen, sloops, gunboats, double-enders, and iron- 
clads, represent the additions to the sea-going navy during 
the four years. There was also an immense river fleet, com- 
posed of river-steamboats, rams, ironclads, " tinclads," and 
mortar-boats, a collection of nondescripts, which under the 
leadership of able commanders, made the naval operations on 
the Mississippi as brilliant and successful as any in the war. 

In the construction of the new ships-of-war, no attempt 
was made to reproduce the fine screw-frigates of 1855, 
as they failed to show their usefulness, except perhaps at 
Port Eoyal and at Port Fisher. The Colorado could not be 
got over the bar, when Farragut went up to New Orleans, 
and the Eoanoke and Minnesota were helpless at Hampton 
Eoads. In the latter half of the war, however, the Depart- 
ment undertook the construction of a class of vessels of con- 
siderable size, but very different in character. These were 
large, wooden steamers, with fine lines, excessively long and 
sharp and narrow, of light draft for their size, in which every 
quality was sacrificed to speed. In some of these the length 
was as great as eight times the beam. They were to be sea- 
going cruisers. Their main purpose was to Capture the com- 
merce-destroyers ; and perhaps, in case of foreign oompliea- 


tions, to do a little commerce-destroying themselves. Their 
araiament was heavy ; but armament yras not theii' principal 
feature. Above all things, they were to be fast ; and in those 
that were built, "the desired result was generally secured. 
One of them, the Wampanoag or Florida, succeeded in at- 
taining for a short time the extraordinary speed of seventeen 
and three-fourths knots an hour. 

The plan which comprehended the construction of these 
vessels was a scheme of somewhat large dimensions, and 
was never completed. Of the three principal types, named 
respectively after the Am^onoosuc, the Java, and the Con- 
toocook, twenty-eight vessels were projected, and most of 
them were begun ; but few of them were launched, and these 
only after the close of the war. Under the pressure of urgent 
necessity, they were built of unseasoned white-oak timber, in- 
stead of the live-oak which had been hitherto used for ships- 
of-war ; and such of them as were finished were no sooner 
in the water than they began to decay. Six years after 
the war was ended, the chief constructor, writing of these 
vessels, reported that some of them, costing over a million of 
dollars, had made only one cruise, and then had been found 
too rotten to be repaired. They served the purpose, how- 
ever of contributing, with other circumstances, to modify 
the menacing attitude of foreign powers ; and their serious 
imperfections were the necessary result of the situation. 
The Administration was bound to do its utmost to provide 
for every contingency ; and the failure of preparation during 
peace, when plans could be matured, and materials accumu- 
lated at leisure, compelled, when the time of action came, a 
hurried and lavish expenditure. 

Great as was the task before the United States Govern- 
ment in preparing for a naval war, it was as nothing to that 


of the enemy. The latter had at his disposal a small number 
of trained officers imbued with the same ideas, and brought 
up in the same school, as their opponents. Some of these, 
like Buchanan, Semmes, Brown, Maffitt, and Brooke, were 
men of extraordinary professional qualities ; but excej^t 
in its officers, the Oonfeder'ate Government had nothing 
in the shape of a navy. It had not a single ship-of-war. 
It had no abundant fleet of merchant-vessels in its ports 
from which to draw reserves. It had no seamen, for its 
people were not given to seafaring pursuits. Its only ship- 
yards were Norfolk and Pensacola. . Norfolk, with its im- 
mense supplies of ordnance and equipments, was indeed 
invaluable; but though the three hundred new Dahlgren 
guns captured in the yard were a permanent acquisition, the 
yard itself was lost when the war was one-fourth over. The 
South was without any large force of skilled mechanics ; and 
such as it had were early summoned to the army. There 
were only three rolling-mills in the country, two of which 
were in Tennessee; and the third, at Atlanta, was unfitted 
for heavy work. There were hardly any machine-shops that 
were prepared to supply the best kind of workmanship ; and 
in the beginning the only foundry capable of casting heavy 
guns was the Tredegar Iron "Works, which under the direc- 
tion of Commander Brooke, was employed to its fullest 
capacity. Worst of all, there were no raw materials, except 
the timber that was standing in the forests. The cost of iron 
was enormous, and toward the end of the war it was hardly 
to be had at any price. Under these circumstances, no gen- 
eral plan of naval policy on a large scale could be carried 
out ; and the conflict on the Southern side became a species 
of partisan, desultory warfare. 

A Navy Department had been established by an act of 
the Provisional Congress on February 21. Mallory, who 


had been Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs in 
the United States Senate, was appointed Secretary of the 
Navy. In matters relating to ordnance and armor, the lead- 
ing spirit at the Department was Commander Brooke, who 
was afterward Chief of Bureau. As early as the- 15th of 
March an appropriation of one million dollars was made for 
the construction or purchase of ten steam-gunboats. The 
Administration made tremendous efforts to create a navy ; 
but in spite of the greatest perseverance and ingenuity, it 
found itself checked and hampered at every turn. By dint 
of using everything it could lay hands on, it got together 
in the beginning a small and scattered fleet, which had 
hardly the semblance of a naval force. Six of the revenue- 
cutters came early into its possession. The steam-battery 
Fulton was seized at Pensacola, and $25,000 were appro- 
priated to complete and equip her. The Merrimao was 
presently raised at Norfolk, and found to have no seri- 
■ ous injury. Encouragement was given to private enter- 
prise, by Davis's immediate adoption of the plan of issuing 
letters-of-marque. It was recognized that one of the most 
vulnerable points on the Union side lay in its commerce ; 
and it was against commerce alone that the insurgent navy 
throughout the war was able to sustain the offensive. The 
Federal Government could not retaliate, because there was 
no commerce to retaliate upon. The carrying trade of the 
South was in foreign hands ; and the only way to assail 
it was by establishing a blockade, which afBxed to it an 
illegal character. Powerless to raise the blockade of their 
own coast, and much less to establish one at the North, the 
Confederates confined their aggressions chiefly to merchant 
vessels ; and having, by the address of their agents, and 
the negligence of the English authorities, secured a few 
cruisers well adapted for the purpose, they inflicted injur- 


ies on the American merchant marine from which it never 

But this was warfare for which only a few vessels were 
needed. For strictly naval warfare, where ships-of-war 
measured themselves against each other, the South was 
never able to accumulate a sufficient force. Old vessels 
were altered, new vessels were built at different points, and 
some of them were for a time successful, or at least did not 
yield without a hard struggle ; but there was no possibility, 
except perhaps for a time on the Mississippi, of sustained 
or concerted action. The naval force that opposed Golds- 
borough in the Sounds was pitifully weak, as was that which 
Dupont found at Port Eoyal. Little more could be said of 
the squadron at New Orleans, though, the ironclad Missis- 
sippi, if accident and mismanagement had not delayed her 
commission, might have given Farragut's fleet some an- 
noyance. At Mobile the Tennessee, under the gallant Bu-. 
chanan, fought almost single-handed the whole fleet, only 
to be captured after a heroic defence. At Savannah, the 
Atlanta was captured almost as soon as she appeared. 
Charleston was never able to make more than a raid or two 
on the blockading force. The Albemarle maintained herself 
for six months in the waters of North Carolina, but she was 
blockaded in the Eoanoke Eiver, and was finally destroyed 
by the daring of Gushing. Finally the Merrimac, which 
was lost through our own shortcomings, had a brilliant 
but brief career in Hampton Eoads. 

These isolated attempts comprised, together with the ex- 
ploits of the cruisers, the sum of the naval operations on the 
Southern side. Viewed in the light of the difficulties to be 
met by the Confederate navy, they were little less than phe- 
nomenal. But as forming a standard of comparison for fu- 
ture wars, or for the strength of future enemies, they are hardly 


to be considered. To-day we are worse oflf, for the period 
in which we live, than we were in 1861, when the feebleness 
of our enemy gave us eight months for preparation ; and if 
it should ever be our misfortune to be involved in another 
war, we shall probably have a far more formidable antag- 
onist to encounter, and one prepared to carry on hostilities 
from the very outset. 
I.— 2 



The first measure of naval warfare undertaken by the Ad- 
ministration, and the one which it carried out for four years 
with the most sustained effort, was one that seemed at the 
outset in the highest degree impracticable. A navy of 
thirty-five available modern vessels, while it might be ex- 
pected to produce substantial results by concentrated at- 
tacks at isolated points on the seaboard, or in engagements 
with the enemy's ships-of-war, counted for almost nothing 
as an effectual barrier to commerce along 3,000 miles of 
coast. To undertake siich a ta,sk, and to proclaim the un- 
dertaking to the world, in all its magnitude, at a time .when 
the Navy Department had only three steam-vessels at its 
immediate disposal in home ports, was an entei-prise of the 
greatest boldness and hardihood. For the days of paper 
blockades were over ; and, though the United States were 
not a party to the Declaration of Paris, its rule in regard to 
blockade was only the formal expression of a law universally 
recognized. " Blockades, to be binding, must be effective — 
that is to say, maintained by a force sufiicient really to pre- 
vent access to the coast of the. enemy ; " or, according to the 
general interpretation given to the treaty, sufficient to create 
an evident danger in entering or leaving the port. In this 
sense, the Government understood its responsibilities and 
prepared to meet them. 


It was natural, in view of the inadequacy of the force, that 
foreign governments should look at the measure with sus- 
picion, and should watch its execution with careful scnitiny. 
Commercial communities abroad doubted the seriousness of 
the undertaking, because, in their ignorance of the energy 
and the resources of the Government, they doubted its feasi- 
bility. An effective blockade on such a scale was a thing 
unprecedented, even in the operations of the foremost naval 
powers of the world. It seemed to be an attempt to revive 
the cabinet blockades of half a century before, when Eng- 
land and France laid an embargo upon each other's coasts, 
and captured all vessels at sea whose destination was within 
the proscribed limits ; and when Spain interdicted com- 
merce with the northern colonies in South America, and as 
a matter of form, kept a brig cruising in the Caribbean Sea. 

No time was lost in announcing the intentions of the Gov- 
ernment. On the 19th of April, six days after the fall of Sum- 
ter, the President issued a proclamation declaring the block- 
ade of the Southern States from South Carolina to Texas. On 
the 27th the blockade was extended to Virginia and North 
Carolina. The terms of the proclamation were as follows : 

"Now therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States 
. . , have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade 
of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of 
the United States and of the Law of Nations in such case provided. 
For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent en- 
trance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid,- If, therefore, with 
a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach or shall attempt 
to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the com- 
mander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her regis- 
ter the fact and date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again 
attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured, and 
sent to the nearest convenient port for such proceedings against herj 
and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable." 


Upon the issue of the proclamation, the Government im- 
mediately found itself confronted with the question whether 
the movement at the South should be regarded as rebellion 
or as war. From the legal point of view the acts of the 
insurgents could be looked upon in no other light than 
as armed insurrection, "levying war against the United 
States," and under the constitutional definition, the actors 
were guilty of treason. But the extent of the movement, 
its well-defined area, and, above all, its complete govern- 
mental organization, made it impossible to put the legal 
theory into practice ; and almost from the beginning hos- 
tilities were carried on precisely as in a regular war. The 
Government, however, in its dealings with foreign powers 
always asserted stoutly that the movement was purely an 
insurrection, and that those in arms against it were rebels, 
and not belligerents. 

This position, though it involved occasional inconsist- 
encies, was maintained with considerable success, except 
in relation to the status of prisoners, and in those cases 
where the operations of the war affected foreign interests. 
The question first arose in reference to the blockade. 
Blockade, in the ordinary sense, is purely an act of war. 
It means the closing of an enemy's ports, and the capture 
of all vessels, neutral or hostile, attempting to enter with 
knowledge, of the blockade. It enables a belligerent to 
seize vessels on the high seas bound for a blockaded port. 
It stands on the same footing as the right of search, which 
is exclusively a war right ; and like the right of search, it is 
a benefit to the belligerent, and a hardship to the neutral. 

Even after the President's proclamation, which was to all 
intents a belligerent declaration, and after the blockade had 
been set on foot, the Government still held to its theory 
that the parties to the contest were not belligerents, and that 


rebellion was not in any sense war. In his report of July 4, 
1861, at the special session of Congress, the Secretary of the 
Navy referred to the blockade in these terms : 

"In carrying into effect these principles, and in suppressing the at- 
tempts to evade and resist theni, and in order to maintain the Consti- 
tution and execute the laws, it became necessary to interdict commerce 
at those ports where duties could not be collected, the laws maintained 
and executed, and where the officers of the Government were not toler- 
ated or permitted to exercise their functions. In performing this do- 
mestio municipal duty^^ the property and interests of foreigners became 
to some extent involved in our home questions, and with a view to 
extending to them every comity that the circumstances would justify, 
the rules of blockade were adopted, and, as far as practicable, made 
applicable to the cases that occurred under this embargo or non-inter- 
course of the insurgent States. The commanders of the squadron 
were directed to permit the vessels of foreigners to depart within fif- 
teen days, as in cases of actual effective blockade, and then vessels 
were not to be seized unless they attempted, after having been once 
warned off, to enter an interdicted port in disregard of such warning. " 

In referring to the blockade in these words, the Navy De- 
partment clearly had in mind a measure of internal admin- 
istration ; and this domestic application of a belligerent right 
was excused on the ground of a desire to extend every possi- 
ble comity to foreigners. But in putting forward this plea, 
the Secretary failed to see that the application of the rules 
of blockade to a domestic embargo, s'd far from extending 
comity to foreigners, abridged their rights, and imposed on 
them liabilities and penalties which no domestic embargo of 
itself could produce. It was not the foreign trader, but the 
belligerent oniiser that gained by the adoption of the rules 
of blockade. A government has the right to close its own 
ports, and to impose heavy penalties upon all who attempt 

> The italics are not in the original. 


to enter ; but it cannot by yirtiie of any such measure search 
and seize foreign vessels on the high seas, even though 
bound for the embargoed port. To do this it must establish 
a blockade. In other words, it must wage war, and the two 
parties in the contest must become belligerents. 
, Although it may have been the intention of the Executive 
in July to regard the blockade as a domestic embargo, it 
soon gave up the idea in practice. Neutral vessels were 
searched and captured at sea. Prizes were sent in for adju- 
dication, and condemned for breach of blockade and for 
carrying contraband, "in pursuance of the laws of the United 
States and the Law of Nations in such case provided," and 
not in pursuance of any law imposing civil forfeitures or 
penalties for violation of a domestic embargo. The forms of 
examiuation and procedure were those of belligerent prize- 
courts; and the decisions expressly recognized a state of 
war, and could be founded on no other hypothesis. 

Under these circumstances, the complaint against the 
British Government of having done an unfriendly act in 
recognizing the rebels as belligerents, had no very serious 
foundation. The Queen's proclamation of neutrality, pub- 
lished on May 13, was a statement that hostilities existed 
between the Government of the United States and " certain 
States styling themselves the Confederate States of Amer- 
ica," and a command to British subjects to observe a strict 
neutrality between the contending parties. Its form and 
contents were those commonly found in the declarations of 
neutrals at the outbreak of war. The annoyance it gave to 
the Government and the elation it caused at the South were 
due to the fact that it appeared somewhat early in the strug- 
gle, and that it was the first recognition from abroad of 4he 
strength and organization of the insurgent Government. As 
a matter of law, Great Britain had the right to declare her- 


self neutral, especially after the blockade was proclaimed, as 
blockade is a purely belligerent act. Her oifence, reduced 
to its exact proportions, consisted in taking the ground of 
a neutral before the magnitude and force of the insurrec- 
tion were such as to justify it. But the hopes raised at 
the South by the proclamation led to the prevalent belief 
throughout the Union that it was dictated by unfriendly 
motives ; while the undisguised sympathy for the Southern 
cause shown by the upper classes in England tended to 
strengthen the impression and to aggravate the wound. 

The inception of the blockade was somewhat irregular. 
Ordinarily a blockade may begin in one of two ways ; either 
by a public announcement coupled with the presence of a 
force before the blockaded port ; or by stationing the force 
without an announcement. The first is a blockade by noti- 
fication ; the second is a blockade in fact. As breach of 
blockade only becomes an offence when accompanied by 
Imowledge, actual or constructive, of the existence of the 
blockade, it is a question of some importance when the 
blockade begins and how knowledge of it is to be ac- 
quired; In a blockade by notification, knowledge is held 
to have been acquired when sufficient time has elapsed 
for the notice to have been generally received; and after 
this time a neutral vessel, by sailing for the blockaded 
port, has committed an offence and incurred a penalty. 
With a blockade that is purely de facto, on the other hand, 
knowledge must be obtained on the station, and neutrals 
have a right to sail for the port and to be warned off on 
their arrival. 

Whether a blockade is initiated as a blockade by notifica- 
tioih or as a blockade de facto, the indispensable condition 
of its establishment is the presence of a force at the block- 
aded port. Actual notice of the fact can never precede the 


existence of the fact. The President's two proclamations 
did not therefore constitute actual notice, because at the 
date of their issue there was not even a pretence that the 
blockade existed. Nor do they appear to have been so in- 
tended. The idea was rather to publish a manifesto declar- 
ing in a general way the intentions of the Government, and 
then to carry them out as promptly as circumstances would 

The blockade therefore began as a blockade de facto, not 
as a blockade by notification. During the summer of 1861 
vessels were stationed at different points, one after another, 
by which the blockade at those points was separately estab- 
lished. Notices, of a more or less informal character, were 
given in some cases by the commanding officer of the block- 
ading force ; but no general practice was observed. When 
Captain Poor, in the Brooklyn, took his station off the Mis- 
sissippi, he merely informed the officer commanding the 
forts that New Orleans was blockaded. Pendergrast, the 
commanding officer at Hampton Boads, issued a formal 
document on April 30, calling attention to the President's 
proclamation in relation to Virginia and North Carolina, 
and giving notice that he had a sufficient force there for 
the purpose of carrying out the proclamation. He added 
that vessels coming from a distance, and ignorant of the 
proclamation, would be warned off. But Pendergrast's 
announcement, though intended as a notification, was 
marked by the same defects as the proclamation. The ac- 
tual blockade and the notice of it must always be commen- 
surate. At this time, there were several vessels in Hamp- 
ton Eoads, but absolutely no force on the coast of North 
Carolina; and the declaration was open to the charge of 
stating what was not an existing fact. 

The importance of these early formalities arises from the 


fact that the liability of neutral vessels depends on the ac- 
tual existence of the blockade, and upon their knowledge 
of it. Until the establishment of the blockade is known, 
actually or constructively, all vessels have a right to be 
warned off. When the fact has become notorious, the privi- 
lege of warning ceases. In the statement about warning, 
therefore, the President's proclamation said either too much 
or too little. If it was intended, as the language might 
seem to imply, that during the continuance of the block- 
ade — which, as it turned out, was the same thing as dur- 
ing the continuance of the war — all neutral vessels might 
approach the coast and receive individual warning, and that 
only after such warning would they be liable to capture, it 
conceded far more than usage required. If it meant simply 
that the warning would be, given at each point for such time 
after the force was posted as would enable neutrals gen- 
erally to become aware of the fact, it conveyed its mean- 
ing imperfectly. In practice, the second interpretation was 
adopted, in spite of the remonstrances of neutrals ; and the 
warnings given in the early days of the blockade were grad- 
ually discontinued, the concessions of the ^proclamation to 
the contrary notwithstanding. The time when warning 
should cease does not appear to have been fixed ; and in 
one instance at least, on the coast of Texas, it was given as 
late as July, 1862. The fact of warning was commonly en- 
dorsed on the neutral's register. In some cases the warn- 
ings had the same fault as Pendergrast's proclamation, in 
being a little too comprehensive, and including ports where 
an adequate force had not yet been stationed. The board- 
ing oflScers of the Niagara, when off Charleston, in May, 
warned vessels off the whole Southern coast, as being in a 
state of blockade, though no ship-of-war had as yet appeared 
off Savannah ; and the Government paid a round sum to 
L— 3* 


their owners in damages for the loss of a market, which was 
caused by the official warning. 

The concession of warning to neutrals at the port, if it 
had continued through the war, would have rendered the 
blockade to a great extent inoperative. Vessels would have 
been able to approach the coast without risk of capture, and 
to have lain about the neighborhood until a good oppor- 
tunity offered for running past the squadron. In other 
words, the first risk of the blockade-runner would have been 
a risk of warning, instead of a risk of capture ; and the 
chances in his favor would have been materially increased. 
The courts, as well as the cruisers, disregarded the procla- 
mation as soon as the blockade was fairly established, and 
held, in accordance with English and American precedents, 
that warning was unnecessary where actual knowledge could 
be proved. 

It is probable that when the blockade was proclaimed it 
was thought that the measure could be adequately carried 
out by stationing a small squadron at the principal com- 
mercial ports, supplemented by a force of vessels cruising 
up and down the coast. The number of points to be covered 
would thus be reduced to four or five on the Atlantic and as 
many more on the Gulf. Had this expectation been real- 
ized, the blockade would have been by no means the stupen- 
dous undertaking that it seemed to observers abroad. Act- 
ing upon such a belief, the Government entered upon its 
task with confidence and proceeded with despatch. The 
Niagara, which had returned from Japan on April 24, was 
sent to cruise off Charleston. The Brooklyn and Pow- 
hatan moved westward along the Gulf. Before the 1st of 
May, seven steamers of considerable size had been chartered 
in New York and Philadelphia. One of these, the Keystone 
State, chartered by Lieutenant Woodhull, and intended es- 


pecially for use at Norfolk, was at her station in Hampton 
Koads in forty-eight hours after Woodhull had received his 
orders in Washington to secure a vessel. The screw-steamer 
South Carolina, of eleven hundred and sixty-five tons, pur- 
chased in Boston on May 3, arrived off Pensacola on June 
4 ; and the Massachusetts, a similar vessel in all respects, 
and bought at the same time, was equally prompt in reach- 
ing Key West. 

Notwithstanding these efforts, the blockade can hardly be 
said to have been in existence until six weeks after it was 
declared, and then only at the principal points. When the 
Niagara arrived off Charleston on the 11th of May, she re- 
mained only four days ; and except for the fact that the Har- 
riet Lane was off the bar on the 19th, there was no blockade 
whatever at that point for a fortnight afterward. The Brit- 
ish Government called attention to this fact, and suggested 
that a new blockade required a new notification, with the 
usual allowance of time for the departure of vessels; but 
the State Department did not regard the blockade as having 
been interrupted. Savannah was blockaded on the 28th of 
May. In the Gulf, Mobile and New Orleans received notice 
on the 26th from the lY)whatan and the Brooklyn ; and a 
month later the South Carolina was at Galveston. At the 
principal points, therefore, there was no blockade at all 
during the first month, and after that time the chain of in- 
vestment was far from being complete. Indeed it could 
hardly be called a chain at all, when so many links were 
wanting. Even Wilmington, which later became the most 
important point on the coast in the operations of the block- 
ade-runners, was still open, and the intermediate points 
were not under any effective observation. 

As liability for breach of blockade begins with the mere 
act of sailing for the blockaded port, the distance of this 


port from the point of departure becomes an important con- 
sideration to the blockade-runner. The longer the distance 
to be traversed the greater the risk ; and some method of 
breaking the voyage must be devised, so that as much of it 
as possible may be technically innocent. The principal 
trade of the South during the war was with England ; and 
it became an object to evade liability during the long trans- 
atlantic passage. For this purpose, all the available neutral 
ports in the neighborhood of the coast were made entrepots 
for covering the illegal traffic. 

There were four principal points which served as inter- 
mediaries for the neutral trade with the South ; Bermuda, 
Nassau, Havana, and Matamoras. Of these Nassau was the 
most prominent. Situated on the island of New Providence 
in the Bahamas, it is only about one hundred and eighty 
miles in a straight line from the coast of Florida. Florida, 
however, was not the objective point of the leading blockade- 
runners. It had neither suitable harboi-s nor connections 
with the interior. The chief seats of commerce on the 
Eastern coast were Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington. 
The run to these points from Nassau was from five hundred 
to six hundred miles, or three days, allowing for the usual 
delays of the passage. For such trips, small quantities of 
coal were needed, which gave great room for stowage of 
cargo. There was no great depth of water at Nassau, which 
was an advantage to the blockade-runners ; and the cruisers 
generally took their station off Abaoo Light, fifty miles 
away. New Providence was surrounded by numbers of 
small islands, over whose waters, within a league of the 
shore, the sovereignty of a great power threw a protection 
as complete and as effective as that of guns and fortifica- 
tions. A vessel bound to Nassau from one of the blockaded 
ports must have been hard-pressed indeed if she could not 


find a refuge. The navigation among the islands was dan- 
gerous and difficult, the channels were intricate, and reefs 
and shoals abounded ; but skilful pilots were always at the 
command of the blockade-runners. 

Nassau was a place of no special importance before the 
war. Its inhabitants lived chiefly by fishing and wrecking. 
But with the demands of the moment, it suddenly became a 
commercial emporium. Its harbor was crowded with ship- 
ping. Its wharves were covered with cotton-bales awaiting 
transportation to Europe, and with merchandise ready to be 
shipped for the blockaded country. Confederate agents 
were established here, and took charge of the interests of 
their Government in connection with the contraband trade. 
Money quickly earned was freely spent, and the war, at least 
while it lasted, enriched the community. 

Bermuda shared, though in a less degree, the profits of 
the blockade-running traffic. Its connection was closest 
with Wilmington, which was six hundred and seventy-four 
miles distant, and which was the favorite port of the block- 
ade-runners, especially in the last year of the war. In the 
Gulf, Havana had a similar importance. The run to the 
coast of Florida was only a little over one hundred miles. 
But Key West was inconveniently near, the Gulf blockade 
was strict, and after New Orleans was captured, the trade 
offered no such inducements as that on the Atlantic coast. 
Nevertheless it is stated by Admiral Bailey, on the authority 
of intercepted correspondence of the enemy, that between 
April 1 and July 6, 1863, fifty vessels left Havana to run the 

The situation of Matamoras was somewhat peculiar. It 
was the only town of any importance on the single foreign 
frontier of the Confederacy. Situated opposite the Texan 
town of Brownsville, on the Eio Grande, about forty miles 


from its mouth, and in neutral territory, it offered peculiar 
advantages for contraband trade. The Eio Grande could 
not be blockaded. Cargoes shipped for Matamoras were 
transferred to lighters at the mouth of the river. On their 
aiTival at Matamoras they were readily transported to the 
insurgent territory. Accordingly, in 1862, the place became 
the seat of a flourishing trade. The sudden growth of the 
city was a notorious fact, as was also the cause that led to it. 
Yet the Government was unable to j)iit a stop to the traffic, 
unless evidence could be brought to show that the cargoes 
were really destined for the enemy. Several vessels bound 
for Matamoras were captured and sent in, but in most of the 
cases the prize court decreed restitution, on the ground that 
a neutral port could not be blockaded, and therefore there 
could be no breach of blockade in sailing for it. Even in 
the case of the Peterhoif, which was captured near St. 
Thomas under suspicious circumstances, and whose papers 
showed Matamoras as her destination, only the contraband 
part of the cargo was condemned. 

When the advantage of a neutral destination was fully un- 
derstood, it became the practice for all the blockade-runners 
out of European ports to clear for one or the other of these 
points, and upon their arrival to wait for a favorable oppor- 
tunity to run over to their real destination. Nobody could 
be deceived by this pretence of an innocent voyage ; and the 
courts, looking only at the final destination, condemned the 
vessels when there was evidence of an ultimate intention to 
break the blockade. This decision rested upon an old prin- 
ciple of the English prize-courts, known as the doctrine of 
continuous voyages, according to which the mere touching 
at an intermediate port of a vessel engaged in an illegal 
voyage could not break the continuity of the voyage or 
remove the taint of illegality. Hence, if a vessel cleared 


from Liverpool with the intention of merely touching at 
Nassau, and then proceeding to Charleston, and if this inten- 
tion could be proved from the papers, the character of the 
cargo, and the examination of persons on board, the two 
voyages were held to be one, and condemnation followed. 

In order to meet the new difficulty, a new device was 
adopted. Cargoes were sent out to Nassau, and were there 
transshipped, sometimes directly, from vessel to vessel, in the 
harbor, sometimes after being landed on the wharf ; and 
thence were transported in a new conveyance to the block- 
aded port. Eeturn cargoes were transshipped in the same 
way. This had a double advantage. It made the continuity 
of the transaction much more difficult of proof, and it 
enabled the capitalists engaged in the trade to employ two 
different classes of vessels, for the service for which each was 
specially adapted. For the long voyages across the Atlantic 
heavy freighters could be used, of great capacity and stoutly 
built ; and the light, swift, hardly visible steamers, with low 
hulls, and twin-screws or feathering paddles, the typical 
blockade-runners, could be employed exclusively for the 
three days' run on the other side of Nassau or Bermuda. 
But here again the courts stepped in, and held that though 1/^ 
a transshipment was made, even after landing the cargo and 
going through a form of sale, the two voyages were parts of 
one and the same transaction, and the cargo from the outset 
was liable to condemnation, if the original intention had 
been to forward the goods to a blockaded port. Nor did 
the decisions stop here. As all the property, both ship and 
cargo, is confiscated upon proof of breach of blockade, it 
was held that the ships carrying on this traffic to neutral 
ports were confiscable, provided the ultimate destination of 
the cargo to a blockaded port was known to the owner. In 
the words of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, " The 


ships are planks of the same bridge, all of the same kind, 
and necessary for the convenient passage of persons and 
property from one end to the othei\" 

The adoption of this rule by the highest courts in the 
United States raised a loud outcry on the part of those in- 
terested in the traffic, and was severely criticised by publi- 
cists abroad, especially by those who favored, in general, the 
continental view of the laws of war. The United States 
were accused of sacrificing the rights of neutrals, which they 
had hitherto upheld, to the interests of belligerents, and of 
disregarding gi'eat principles for the sake of a momentary 
advantage. In truth, however, the principle adopted by the 
court was not a new one, though a novel application was 
made of it to meet a novel combination of circumstances. 
It had formerly been applied to cases where neutrals, en- 
gaged in illegal trade between two ports of a belligerent, 
had endeavored to screen the illegality of the voyage by the 
interposition of a neutral port, with or without the landing 
of goods and the employment of a new conveyance. In 
these cases Lord Stowell held that the continuity of the 
voyage was not broken, unless the cargo was really imported 
into the common stock of the neutral country. That the 
principle had not been applied to blockades was due to the 
fact that circumstances had never called for it, as the prac- 
tice of breaking a blockade had never before been carried 
out on such a scale, with such perfect appliances, and by 
the use of such ingenious devices. The really difficult ques- 
tion before the court was as to the sufficiency of the evi- 
dence in each case. It was to be expected that every arti- 
fice in the nature of simulated papers, pretended ownership, 
false destination, and fictitious transfers would be adopted 
to escape liability ; and it was the business of the court to 
penetrate all these disguises, and to ascertain the real char- 


aoter of each transaction. It is probable that in no case 
was injustice done in brushing aside and disregarding the 
various ceremonies, more or less elaborate and artificial, 
that were performed over blockade-running cargoes at Nas- 
sau and Bermuda ; and it must often have happened that 
the ingenuity of shippers was rewarded by a decree of resti- 
tution for the want of technical evidence, when there was 
no moral doubt as to the vessel's guilt. 

As a last resort, the blockade-running merchants adopted 
an expedient so original and so bold that it may almost be 
said to have merited success. As cargoes from Liverpool to 
Nassau ran a risk of capture, the voyage was broken again, 
this time not by a neutral destination, but by one in the 
country of the very belligerent whom the trade was to injure. 
Goods were shipped to New York by the regular steamship 
lines, to be carried thence to Nassau, and so to find their 
way to the blockaded territory. It was supposed that the 
United States would not interfere with commerce between 
its own ports and those of a neutral. This expectation, 
however, was not well-founded. The Government of the 
United States, although federal in its organization, was not 
so impotent in regard to the regulation of trade as was that 
of Great Britain in enforcing the neutrality of its subjects ; 
and if action could not be taken through the Courts, it could 
be taken through the custom-houses. As soon as it was dis- 
covered at New York that the trade with Nassau and Ber- 
muda was assuming large proportions, instructions were 
issued to collectors of customs in the United States to re- 
fuse clearances to vessels which, whatever their ostensible 
destination, were believed to be intended for Southern 
ports, or whose cargoes were in imminent danger of fall- 
ing into the hands of the enemy ; and if there was merely 
ground for apprehension that cargoes were destined for 


the enemy's use, the owners were required to give ample 

The instructions were perfectly general in character, nam- 
ing no particular port or country. The agents of the block- 
ade-runners, however, styling themselves merchants of Nas- 
sau, adopted a tone of righteous indignation, and actually 
had the effrontery to complain of this " unjust discrimina- 
tion '' against what they ingenuously called the trade of the 
Bahamas. As if, indeed, the Bahamas had had any trade, 
or Nassau any merchants, before the days of blockade-run- 
ning! They succeeded, however, in persuading Earl Eus- 
sell to take up the diplomatic cudgels in their behalf ; but 
from the long correspondence that followed, the English 
Government, being clearly in the wrong, derived little satis- 
faction, and a stop was put to the traffic. 

The character of the blockade changed materially as the 
war went on. At first the prevailing idea seems to have 
been that its object was to put a stop to legitimate trade, 
and that this object was secured by the official declaration. 
The squadrons seem to have been employed rather to com- 
ply with the requirements of international law, and to make 
the prohibition binding upon neutrals, than as being them- 
selves the agency by which the prohibition was to be en- 
forced, and without which it was only so much waste paper. 
This idea had some foundation in view of the fact that from 
the beginning, though the blockading force was then incon- 
siderable, the regular course of trade at the Southern ports 
was actually interrupted, neutrals for a time respecting the 
proclamation, or being satisfied to receive their warning 
and to go elsewhere. In place of the regular commerce, 
however, a contraband trade grew up, little by little, which, 
beginning with any materials that came to hand, and carried 
on chiefly by people along the coast, gradually grew to con- 


siderable proportions. Then, and then only, was the ti-ue 
character of the blockade recognized, and measures were 
taken, by increasing the force and by perfecting its organ- 
ization, to make the watch so close as really to prevent egress 
and ingress. But by this time the capital embarked in the 
business was so large as to secure the construction of ves- 
sels built especially for the purpose, beautifully adapted to 
the work, and far more difficult to capture. Therefore, while 
the efforts of the blockaders were redoubled, the difficulties 
before them were vastly increased. The old traditional 
idea of a blockade, maintained by a few large vessels mov- 
ing up and down before a port, at a distance, gave place to 
the entirely novel practice of anchoring a large number of 
small and handy steamers in an exposed position dose to 
the bar at the entrance of the blockaded harbors ; and the 
boldness with which, after the first six months, men kept 
their vessels close in with the shore and manfully rode out 
the gales at their anchors — a thing which seafaring men, as 
a rule, had regarded as impossible, and which would have 
appalled the stoutest captains of former times — showed as 
clearly as the actual engagements the real stuff of which the 
navy was made. 

As to the legal efficiency of the blockade after the first 
six months, there can be no question ; and by the end of the 
second year its stringency was such that only specially- 
adapted vessels could safely attempt to run it. If proof of 
its efficiency was needed, it could be found in the increased 
price of cotton and in the scarcity of manufactured goods 
at the South. In the last year it became as nearly perfect 
as such an operation can be made. Taking its latest devel- 
opment as a type, it is probable that no blockade has ever 
been maintained more effectually by any State; and it is 
certain that no State ever had such a blockade to maintain. 


Apart from its enormous extent, it bad four characteristics 
which, mark it as wholly unprecedented: in the peculiar 
formation of the shore, which gave almost a double coast- 
line throughout, penetrated by numerous inlets, giving ac- 
cess to a complicated network of channels ; in the vicinity of 
neutral ports friendly to the blockade-runners ; in the cot- 
ton-monopoly of the South, which made the blockade a 
source of irritation to neutrals ; and finally, but the most 
important consideration of all, in the introduction of block- 
ade-running vessels propelled by steam. 

The success of this undertaking, so unprecedented both 
in its magnitude and difficulty, can best be judged by the 
results. The number of prizes brought in during the war 
was 1,149, of which 210 were steamers. There were also 
355 vessels burned, sunk, driven on shore, or otherwise de- 
stroyed, of which 85 were steamers ; making a total of 1,504 
vessels of all classes. The value of these vessels and their 
cargoes, according to a low estimate, was thirty-one millions 
of dollars. In the War of 1812, which has always, and 
justly, been regarded as a successful naval war, the num- 
ber of captures was 1,719. But the War of 1812 was waged 
against a commercial nation, and the number of vessels 
open to capture was therefore far greater. Of the prop- 
erty afloat, destroyed or captured during the Civil War, the 
larger part suffered in consequence of the blockade. More- 
over, in the earlier war, out of the whole number of captures, 
1,428 were made by privateers, which were fitted out chiefly 
as a commercial adventure. In the Civil War the work 
was done wholly by the navy ; and it was done in 1«e face 
of obstacles of which naval warfare before that time had 
presented no example or conception. 

As a military measure, the blockade was of vital impor- 
tance in the operations of the war ; and it has been com- 


monly said that without it hostilities would have been pro- 
tracted much longer, and would have been far more bitter 
and bloody than they were. Its peculiar importance lay in 
the isolation of the Southern States and in their dependence 
upon the outside world for the necessaries of life. The 
only neutral frontier was along the Eio Grande ; and the 
country, for many miles on both sides of the boundary, 
offered few facilities for trade or transportation. All sup- 
plies must come from the seaboard; and the purely ag- 
ricultural character of Southern industry made supplies 
from abroad a necessity. Had the position of the two op- 
ponents been reversed, and an efficient blockade main- 
tained against the Northern ports, it would have told with 
far less severity than at the South. 

Besides the exclusion of manufactured goods, and espe- 
cially of munitions of war, which was one of the prime ob- 
jects of the blockade, its second and equally important 
object was to prevent the exportation of cotton, with which 
at this time the Southern States supplied the world. The 
amount of floating capital at the South was never large ; 
land and slaves were the favorite forms of investment ; 
and the sale of cotton was therefore the main source of in- 
come. When exportation was cut off, the Government was 
deprived of its revenues for the war, and the people of the 
very means of existence. It was the common impression 
at the South that the rest of the world, and especially Eng- 
land, •nd too great an interest in the cotton supply to tol- 
erat^B prohibition on exportation ; and it was believed, 
or~Hr least hoped, that the blockade would prove a fatal 
measure for its originators, by the injury it would work 
abroad. The injury was not over-estimated ; and it doubt- 
less had its effect upon the sympathies of the interested 
foreign state. Lancashire, the great centre of the cotton 


manufacture, was compelled to close its mills ; and the 
distress that resulted among the operatives may be esti- 
mated by the fact that, two years after the war had begun, 
no less than ten millions of dollars had been disbursed by 
the Belief Committees. But the British Government, what- 
ever may have been its disposition, had at no time a plausible 
pretext for intervention ; and the blockade continued to be 
enforced with increased rigor. 

As the war went on, the naval forces, securing the co- 
operation of small bodies of troops, gradually obtained 
a foothold at various points and converted the blockade into 
a military occupation. These points then became the head- 
quarters of the different sqiiadrons — ports for rendezvous, 
refitment, and supply, for the " repairs and coal " that were 
forever drawing away the blockaders from their stations at 
critical moments. By the spring of 1862 all the squadrons 
were well provided in this respect, though some of the cen- 
tres of occupation were oocasionallyrecoveredby the enemy. 
Especially on the coast of Texas, blockade and occupation 
alternated at the different Passes throughout the war, partly 
in consequence of the want of troops to hold the occupied 
points. Curiously enough, too, these centres of occupation 
became in a small way centres of blockade-running— Nassaus 
and Bermudas on a diminutive scale. Norfolk, Beaufort 
in North Carolina, Hilton Head with its sutler's shops, Pen- 
saoola, and New Orleans each carried on a trade, prosperous 
as far as it went, with the surrounding coast. At, New 
Orleans, the blockade of Lake Ponchartrain was ^^t, up 
long after the city was taken, not to prevent acces^TO*the 
port, but to capture the illicit traders that cleared from it ; 
and Farragut was obliged to remonstrate shai-ply with the 
Collector for the readiness with which papers covering the 
trade were issued by the custom-house. 



The blockade began, botli in name and in fact, at Hampton 
Roads, and here it continued to be maintained witb the high- 
est efficiency. The only attempt to raise it was that made 
by the Merrimac in March, 1862 ; and after this attempt was 
defeated, the blockading squadron remained in undisturbed 
possession until the close of the war. The safe and commo- 
dious anchorage in the Eoads, its nearness to Washington, 
and the protection afforded by Fortress Monroe made it a 
convenient naval rendezvous ; and for this reason it seems to 
have been adopted as the station for the flag-ship of the 
North Atlantic squadron. Its importance as a blockading 
station, especially in the early part of the war, was due to 
the fact that it commanded the entrance to the James and 
Elizabeth Elvers, upon one of which lay the Confederate 
capital, and upon the other their principal naval depflt. 
The events of the first year, however, which took place in 
and about the Eoads, had little to do with the outside block- 
ade, and properly f OTm an episode by themselves,- which has 
its beedaninK and end in the loss and the recovery of Nor- 

The loss of the Norfolk Yard at the outbreak of the war 
has been already alluded to. This Yard had always been 
extensively used as a dfipOt for arms and munitions of all 
kinds ; and in the spring of 1861 it contained a very large 


supply. The ordinary work was going on actively ; and there 
was nothing to be seen on the spot to indicate that a crisis 
was at hand. The vessels at the Yard comprised an old ship- 
of-the-Iine, the Pennsylvania, which was nsed as a receiving 
ship ; five large sailing-vessels, laid lip in ordinary ; the sail- 
ing-sloops Germantown and Plymouth ; and the brig Dolphin. 
The last three were ready for sea. The steam-frigate Merri- 
mao, whose importance was greater than that of all the others 
combined, was undergoing repairs in her machinery. 

The Navy Yard was situated on the left bank of Elizabeth 
Eiver, nearly opposite the town of Norfolk, and nine 
miles above Sewall's Point, whore the narrow channel that 
forms a continuation of the river enters the Koads. There 
were only a few seamen and marines to hold it, the commu- 
nity outside was unfriendly, and the employees were only 
waiting for the action of the State to range themselves 
against the Government. The majority of the officers were 
Southern men, and were in sympathy with the Southern 
cause. Late in March, the Cumberland, the flagship of the 
Home Squadron, came in from the Gulf and was sent to 
Norfolk. She had a crew of 300 men, and a heavy battery, 
and the towns on both sides of the river were at her mercy, 
if she chose to attack them. As a sailing sloop-of-war, she 
could not be of material assistance in bringing off the threat- 
ened vessels ; but she held the key to the position. 

The State convention of Virginia had been in session since 
the middle of February, but nothing had yet been done wliich 
indicated its final action. The secret session, at which the 
ultimate question was to be decided, began on till -16th of 
April. Up to the critical moment the idea had prevailed ia 
Washington that any action tending to show a want of con- 
fidence in public sentiment in Virginia would crystallize the 
opposition to the Union, and drive the State into secession. 


This idea had foiind expression in the instructions issued to 
the Commandant of the Yard, Commodore MoOauley, who 
was repeatedly warned to take no steps that would give rise 
to suspicion of hostile intention. On the 10th of April, as 
affairs grew more threatening, the Commandant was ordered 
to put the shipping and public property in a condition to be 
moTed out of danger ; but at the same time he was cautioned 
not to give needless alarm. Two days later, orders were 
given for the Merrimac to be prepared with the utmost de- 
spatch to proceed to Philadelphia ; and as it was stated that 
the necessary repairs to the engine would take four weeks, 
the Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy was sent down in person 
to forward matters. He was the bearer of a letter from the 
Secretary of the Navy to Commodore McOauley, which con- 
tained these words : 

" The Department desires to have the Merrimao removed from the 
Norfolk to the Philadelphia Navy Yard with the utmost despatch. The 
Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. B. F. Isherwood, has been ordered to report to 
you for the purpose of expediting the duty, and you will have his sug- 
gestions for that end carried promptly into effect." 

On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 17th, it was reported 
by Isherwood, the Engineer-in-Chief, that the Merrimac was 
ready for steam ; and fires were started the next morning at 
daybreak. Everything was in readiness to proceed to sea, 
and oflScers and men were detailed for the vessels that were 
to go out. But the Commodore, still iniluenced by the de- 
sire to allay suspicion, and by the assertions of some of his 
ofBcers that if the Merrimac were removed Virginia would 
certainly go out of the Union, could not bring himself to 
take decided action, notwithstanding the explicit instructions 
of the Department ; and at two in the afternoon, he ordered 
the fires to be hauled. Meantime the enemy were taking 
I.— 3 

^i^^ f ^3«as«i,#^' *e»-a/^i J-fel 

; ■ ■■■-'.\:-'-.'^"»v^-;;-'\HS; 



Hampton Roads. 


advantage of every hour of delay. Troops ■were thrown into 
NorfoLk in considerable numbers, and batteries were erected 
opposite the Yard. Light-ships had already been sunk in the 
narrow channel off Sewall's Point, and other obstructions 
were put in position on the subsequent night. McOauley 
sent a message to the Commanding General, TaliafeiTO, to 
the effect that if he continued to throw up works in a threat- 
ening position, the Commodore would regard it as an act of 
war, and fire upon them. In reply, General Taliaferro dis- 
claimed any knowledge of the existence of the batteries ; and 
McCauley was obliged to rest satisfied with this answer. 
Lieutenant SeKridge of the Cumberland volunteered to take 
the Dolphin down to Oraney Island, and prevent any further 
obstructing of the river ; but the Commodore, though at first 
consenting, finally refused to give him permission. 

On Friday, the 19th, Commodore McOauley resolved to 
destroy the principal vessels. It is hard to say why he ar- 
rived at this conclusion, the Merrimac's engine having been 
reported ready and her fires lighted the day before. The 
time for heeding the sensitiveness of the population was now 
past ; and, in this respect, it made little difference whether 
the other ships were sunk and the Cumberland went out 
alone, or whether they aU left the place together. Nothing, 
however, was done during the day. On Friday night the 
guns in the parlss were spiked — an injury which could 
be repaired in a few hours. At the same time, a quan- 
tity of ordnance stores was put on board the Cumberland. 
On the next day, the Southern officers on duty at the Yard 
resigned or deserted ; the destruction or removal of the prop- 
erty was continued ; and finally, the four ships were scuttled. 

Already on the 18th, Commodore Hiram Paulding had been 
directed by the Department to proceed to Norfolk with the 
Pawnee, then lying at Washington, and take command of the 


vessels, using force, if necessary, to prevent them from fall- 
ing into the hands of the enemy. He was also ordered to 
destroy what he could not bring off before abandoning the 
Yard. At the same time, oflScers were sent to New York and 
Philadelphia to charter steamers, and to proceed with all de- 
spatch to Hampton Boads. 

The Pawnee left Washington on Friday, and arrived at 
Fortress Monroe on the afternoon of Saturday. Here she 
took on board Captain "Wright of the Engineers, and a regi- 
ment of Massachusetts volunteers. At this very moment, 
the work of disabling the vessels at the Navy Yard had begun. 
Two hours later, at eight o'clock in the evening, the Pawnee 
came in sight of Norfolk. The Cumberland was lying oflf 
the Yard, and went to quarters as the strange vessel ap- 
proached. A fresh wind, blowing down the stream, pre- 
vented her from malting out the Pawnee's answer to her 
hail, but the latter could hear the voice of the officer com- 
manding the Cumberland's pivot gun, asking if he should 
fire. On board the Pennsylvania, which was lying below 
the Cumberland, Lieutenant Allen, seeing the imminence of 
the danger, with extraordinary presence of mind, called out 
to the commanding officer, asking him to cheer the approach- 
ing vessel. In an instant it was done ; and the Pawnee was 
saved from what seemed an inevitable catastrophe. 

It had been Paulding's intention to make a disposition of 
the vessels at various points between Norfolk and the mouth 
of the river in such a way as to command the channel. He 
would have been able to hold this position until the ar- 
rival of the newly-chartered steamers, when he could have 
brought off all the ships in safety. But the action which 
had been taken only two hours before at the Yard forestalled 
his plan; and though the Pawnee and Cumberland were a 
really formidable force, which, with the infantry regiment, 


could have held the enemy in check iintil either reinforce- 
ments arrived or the property was removed — or, at least, 
until the work of destruction was completed — Paulding de- 
cided to burn the principal buildings, and abandon the Yard. 
For this purpose parties were hurriedly organized ; one 
under Commander Alden to prepare the storehouses and 
workshops ; another under Commander Sands for the ship- 
houses ; a third to distribute combustibles among the sink- 
ing vessels ; and a fourth, under Commander John Eodgers, 
assisted by Captain Wright, to blow up the dry-dock. An at- 
tempt was made to disable the guns that had been spiked, by 
knocking off the trunnions ; but this was unsuccessful. 

Shortly before two in the morning, the reports came from 
the various parties that all was ready. A little delay was 
occasioned at this point by the Commandant of the Yard. 
The veteran Commodore, with obstinate gallantry, refused 
to leave his post. Finally Alden was sent to bring him off. 
All the officers and men were withdrawn except eight, who 
were divided among the three firing parties. The Pawnee 
left 'the wharf, took the Cumberland in tow, and started 
4own the river. Two boats were left behind, one for the 
firing parties on shore, the other for that which was to de- 
strQy the ships. At 4.20 a rocket was fired as a signal, and 
in a few minutes ship-houses, shops, and vessels were in a 

The people on shore were brought safely off, except 
Eodgers and his party, who had far to go, and who were cut 
off from the wharf by the burning buildings. They passed 
out into the town, and obtained a boat ; but the river was 
now lighted by the conflagration, and they had not gone far 
before they were obliged to surrender. 

Though a few shops and houses were burnt, the work was 
done so hurriedly that the best part of the valuable material 


at the Yard fell into the hands of the enemy. The diy-dock 
was not destroyed, as the fuse failed to ignite the powder ; 
but whether from accident or from the wort of other hands 
has never been discovered. The magazine, with great num- 
bers of loaded shells, and one hundred and fifty tons of pow- 
der, had already been seized. Two thousand guns of all des- 
criptions were left practically uninjured, three hundred of 
them being new Dahlgren guns of various calibres. Besides 
the guns, machinery, steel plates, castings, construction ma- 
terials, and ordnance and equipment stores in vast quantities 
came into the possession of the Confederates ; and severe as 
the loss of so much material would have been by itself to 
the Federal Government, it was rendered tenfold greater 
by supplying the necessities of the enemy. 

The latter immediately set about utilizing their new ac- 
quisition. The captured Dahlgren guns were distributed 
throughout the country, and many were the occasions when 
the Government had cause to regret the irreparable disaster 
which had supplied the enemy so cheaply with a priceless 
armament of first-class modern ordnance. The Germantown 
and Plymouth were raised and restored, but the Confeder- 
ates had neither time nor money to waste in equipping them 
for sea. The Merrimac was also raised, and though her 
upper works were destroyed, her hull and boilers, and the 
heavy and costly parts of her engine were but little injured. 
A board of officers, of which Lieutenant John M. Brooke was 
the prinoiiDal member, prepared a design for converting her 
into an ironclad, by constructing upon her hull an armored 
casemate with inclined sides and submerged eaves. The 
plates were made under Brooke's superintendence at the 
Tredegar foundry, and it was hoped that the vessel would 
be invulnerable, even against the powerful broadsides of the 
United States fleet. 


While the Confederates were thus preparing their ironclad, 
the Federal Government was at work upon the construction 
of a suitable antagonist. The war, for the moment, was 
being carried on, not at Hampton Koads, but at Norfolk and 
Brooklyn, and the victory was to depend not only upon the 
bravery of the officers, but upon the speed of the mechanics. 
It was a race of constructors ; and in spite of the difficulties 
at the South, and the comparative facilities at the command 
of the Department at Washiagton, the Confederates were 
the winners. The secret of their success lay in promptness 
of preparation. On the 10th of June Brooke was ordered 
at Kichmond to prepare the designs and specifications of an 
ironclad vessel, and on the 23d an engineer and a constructor 
were associated with him in the work. The board I'eported 
without delay, and work on the Merrimac was begun at once. 
On the other hand, nothing was done at Washington until 
the meeting of Congress. The extra session began July 5, 
and the appropriation was made August 3. The ironclad 
board was convened on the 8th of the same month. Its re- 
port was made September 16 ; and the contract for the Moni- 
tor was not completed until October 4. To this delay may be 
directly traced the action of the 8th of March, and the de- 
struction of the Congress and the Cumberland. 

The huU of the Monitor was built at the Continental Iron 
Works, at Greenpoint, Brooklyn, froin Ericsson's plans and 
under his supervision. The vessel was begun in the latter 
part of October. The mechanics worked in three gangs, each 
for the space of eight hom-s, so that the work, when finally 
undertaken, went on without interruption night and day. 
The construction of the vessel was pushed forward so rapidly 
that on the 30th of January, 1862, not quite four months after 
the signing of the contract, the Monitor was launched. 

The new structure consisted of a small u-on hull, upon 


■wMcli rested a large raft, surmounted by a revolving turret. 
The hull was one hundred and twenty-four feet long, and 
thirty-four feet wide at the upper edge. The raft projected 
at the bow and stern, its total length being fifty feet greater 
than that of the hull. Its overhang amidships was three feet 
eight inches wide, gradually increasing towards the bow and 
stern. The raft was five feet deep, and was protected by a 
side armor of five one-inch iron plates backed by oak. The 
deck was covered with two half -inch plates, over timber laid 
on heavy wooden beams. The txuret was armored with eight 
one-inch plates, and its roof was protected by railroad iron. 
In it were two Xl-inot Dahlgren guns. The pilot-house was 
placed on deck, in front of the turret, and was built of square 
iron bars or logs, notched together, with a bolt through the 
comers. On the top of the pilot-house was an iron plate, an 
inch and a half thick, set in a ledge without fastenings. 

The Department selected Lieutenant John L. Worden for 
the command of the Monitor. He was ordered on January 13, 
while the vessel was still on the stocks. Lieutenant S. Dana 
Greene volunteered to go in her, and at Worden's request 
was ordered as executive officer. Two acting-masters, Stod- 
der and Webber, also joined her. There were four engineer 
officers, of whom the senior was First Assistant-Engineer 
Isaac Newton. Chief-Engineer A. C. Stimers made the pas- 
sage in the vessel, as the Government inspector, to report 
upon her machinery. The crew were volunteers, selected by 
Worden from the receiving-ship North Carolina and the fri- 
gate Sabine ; and " a better one," to quote Worden's state- 
ment, "no naval commander ever had the honor to com- 

The first cruise of the Monitor was a novel experiment and, 
as the event showed, fuU of hazard. Had she been intended 
merely as a floating battery to protect the harbor in which 


she was bmlt, the service would have called for no extraordi- 
nary sacrifice. But she was to go to sea ; and many expe- 
rienced officers, both in the navy and in the merchant service, 
doubted seriously her ability to keep afloat in any but the 
calmest weather, and regarded the enterprise as desperate — 
an opinion which the Monitor's subsequent career fully jus- 
tified. If she sank, she would sink quickly ; and there was 
small chance that any of the devoted men penned up in her 
submerged hull would escape. All this was well understood 
by her officers and men ; and with a courage and self-devotion 
of no common order, they voluntarily accepted the conditions, 
and prepared to meet the danger. 

The general plan of the Monitor, as originally invented by 
Ericsson, was little less than an inspiration of genius. But 
the first vessel of the type was by no means perfect in its de- 
tails, and many improvements were made in those subse- 
quently built. The defects, for grave defects they were, had 
a marked influence upon both her sea-going and her fighting 
qualities, and put her at a great disadvantage as compared 
with her successors. Her armored deck or raft was attached 
to the hull by a single set of rivets, which were unequal to 
the strain caused by a heavy sea striking the projecting bow 
from underneath.' Her smoke-pipes and blower-pipes pro- 
jected only a few feet above the deck, and could hardly fail 
to ship large quantities of water in a heavy sea. In action, 
her weakest point was the pilot-house. Its rude structure, 
that of an iron log hut, was ill-calculated to resist the blow of 
a heavy projectile. Its roof was detached, merely resting by 
its weight on the walls. Its position on the deck forward of 
the turret was disadvantageous, as it precluded end-on fire 
when the vessel was approaching an enemy, and reduced the 
circular sweep of the guns by nearly eight points. But the 
worst feature of the arrangement was the separation of the 
I.— 3* 


captain who was manoeu-vring tlie ship from the lieutenant 
who was working the turret and firing the guns. Each was 
completely cut off from the other, except by a speaking-tube, 
which opened in the floor of the movable turret, and through 
which the sound would only pass when the turret was in its 
normal position. The experience of the first Monitor led to 
the simple device of putting the pilot-house over the tijrret, a 
change that was suggested by Newton, the engineer of the ves- 
sel. Finally the machinery for turning the turret, a wheel 
and rod connected by gearing with the turret-engine, was so 
defective that the turret was equally slow in starting, and, 
once started, in coming to a stop ; and there was hardly time 
to point the guns before the muzzles had swept by their 
target. But considering the time in which she was built, 
the wonder is not that she was imperfect, but that she was in 
anywise ready ; and it was well for the country that she did 
not wait another day to complete her preparations. 

The first trial of the Monitor was made February 19, on 
the day that she was delivered at the Navy Yard. She was 
put in commission on the 25th, when a second trial took 
place ; but her steering gear was not in working order, and 
she did not go out of the East Eiver. At a third trial, a week 
later, she steamed down to Sandy Hook, and tried her guns. 
The mechanics were still at work upon her ; indeed, the ves- 
sel was haa'dly completed when she left New York, though 
the workmen were busy during the night before she sailed. 
Finally, at 11 o'clock on the morning of Thursday, March 6, 
she started down the harbor ; and in the afternoon she was 
fairly at sea on her way to the Chesapeake. 

The passage down was difficult and dangerous. The Mon- 
itor was in tow of the Seth Low, a small tug, and was accom- 
panied by two unseaworthy gunboats, the Currituck and 
Sachem. The ten days between the commission of the Mon- 


itor and her departure had given the crew little time for 
practice in the management of the novel eraft, with its com- 
plicated mechanism. The wind was moderate during Thurs- 
day night and Friday morning ; but about noon, off the 
Delaware, it freshened to a strong breeze from the northwest, 
and caused a rough sea, which broke over the vessel's deck, 
forcing the water in floods through the hawse-pipes and 
under the turret. In the afternoon the sea increased, and 
breaking over the smoke-pipe and blower-pipe, caused the 
blower-bands to slip and break. This stopped the draft in 
the furnace, and filled the engine-room and flre-room with 
gas. Newton, with the other engineers and the firemen, 
strove in vain against the gas, trying to repair the injury, and 
they were only rescued as they lay unconscious on the floor 
of the engine-room. As the engines were now useless either 
for propulsion or pumping, the water gained rapidly. The 
hand-pump was used and the men set to bailing, but with 
little effect, as the water could only be carried off over the 
wall of the turret. At last the tug was headed for the shore. 
After five hours' steaming, the vessels came into smoother 
water ; the engine-room was cleared of gas, the blower-bands 
were repaired, and the engine once more moved slowly. 

So matters continued untU shortly after midnight, when 
the Monitor, in crossing a shoal, suddenly ran into a heavy 
head-sea. The water came up through the anchor-well, 
forced the air through the hawse-pipe, and flowed in a 
stream over the ward-room table to the berth-deck. Efforts 
were made to close the hawse-pipe, and the rush of water 
was partly checked. But the sea now broke violently over 
the deck, and again entered the blower-pipes. Another 
disaster seemed imminent. The head wind prevented Wor- 
den from hailing the tug, and in the hurry of preparation 
no arrangement had been made for signalling at night. 


Every sea that dashed the spray over the iDlowers was anx- 
iously watched ; and every few minutes word came from the 
engine-room that the engine could not go much longer un- 
less the water was kept out. About this time the wheel- 
ropes jumped off the steering wheel, owing to the pitching 
of the ship, and became jammed. The vessel was now unman- 
ageable and began to sheer about wildly ; but the tow-rope 
held, and half an hour's work repaired the injury. After 
five critical hours, daylight broke, and the tug was ordered 
to go nearer the shore. By eight o'clock the danger was 
over. At four in the afternoon of the 8th of March the 
Monitor passed Cape Henry. Immediately afterward the 
hawser parted, but the vessel was now in smooth water. 

In the absence of Flag-Officer Goldsborough, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic blockading squad- 
ron, who was engaged at this time in the expedition against 
Eoanoke Island, the senior officer present in Hampton 
Eoads was Captain John Marston of the Eoanoke. The 
force consisted of the Eoanoke and the Minnesota, lying 
near Fortress Monroe, and two sailing-vessels, the Congress 
and the Cumberland, at anchor off Newport News. All were 
admirable vessels of their class. The Congress was a fifty- 
gun frigate, and though rebuilt, or rather built anew, in 
184:1, represented the type of 1812. The Cumberland was a 
sloop-of-war of twenty-four guns. The Eoanoke and the 
Minnesota were screw-frigates of forty guns. These vessels 
have been already referred to. They weye the pride of the 
navy, and before the war had been regarded as the highest 
and most perfect type of the men-of-war of the period. Yet 
it required but the experience of a single afternoon in 
Hampton Eoads, in the month of March, 1862, to show that 
all of them were antiquated, displaced, superseded, and that 
a new era had opened in naval warfare. 


Tte Merrimao, ■which, had been a sister ship of the Minne- 
sota and Eoanoke, was now completed and in commission at 
Norfolk, under her new name of the Virginia. She was to 
all intents a new vessel. Her masts had been removed, and 
her casemate, which sloped at an angle of forty-flve degrees, 
and resembled the roof of a house, had been armored with 
two layers of wrought-iron plates, each two-and-a-half inches 
thick, with a seven-inch wooden backing. She was armed 
with sis IX-inoh Dahlgren guns and two 32-pouader Brooke 
rifles in broadside, and Yll-inch Brooke rifles on pivots in 
the bow and stem ; and a cast-iron ram projected eighteen 
inches from her bow. 

The Congress and Cumberland had been lying off Newport 
News for several months. Their ostensible duty was to 
blockade the James Eiver ; but it is not very clear how a 
sailing-vessel at anchor could be of any use for this purpose. 
Most of the old saiUng-vessels of the navy had by this time 
been relegated to their proper place as school-ships, store- 
ships, and receiving-ships, or had been sent to foreign sta- 
tions where their only duty was to display the flag. Nothing 
shows more clearly the persistence of old traditions than the 
presence of these helpless vessels in so dangerous a neigh- 
borhood. Although the ships themselves were of no value 
for modem warfare, their armament could ill be spared ; and 
they carried between them over eight hundred officers and 
men, whose lives were exposed to a fruitless sacrifice.' 

Commander WilHam Smith, who had commanded the 
Congress for six months, had been detached early in March. 
He turned over the command to his executive, Lieutenant 
Joseph B. Smith, but remained on board while waiting for 
his steamer, and during the engagement of the 8th he 

1 Captain Fox, in his testimony before the Select Committee, says that the sail- 
ing-vessels were left in Hampton Boads at the request of the military authorities. 


served as a volunteer. Kadford, the commander of the 
Cumberland, was attending a, court of inquiry on board the 
Eoanoke when the Merrimao came out, and the command 
of the sloop devolved on Lieutenant Morris. When the 
Merrimac vfas reported, Eadford landed, and rode to New- 
port News ; but he only arrived in time to see the end of 
the action. Both ships were therefore fought by their first 
lieutenants; but they could not have been defended with 
more resolution and gallantry, and no skiU would have 
availed to alter the final result. 

So many rumors about the Merrimac had been current in 
the fleet, without any visible results, that the prevalent feel- 
ing in regard to her was one of skepticism. It was known 
that extensive alterations had been made in the vessel, but it 
was not supposed that her powers of resistance would render 
her shot-proof under the fire of such broadsides as the two 
vessels could bring against her. Moreover, her sister ships, 
the Eoanoke and Minnesota, lay below near the fort. A 
careful lookout was kept up, however ; the ships were 
anchored with springs on their cables, and half the watct 
slept at quarters. 

On the 6th of March, the frigate St. Lawrence came in, a 
vessel in all respects similar to the Congress. But so far 
from increasing the force to be opposed to the Merrimac, she 
only added another to the list of probable victims. 

On Saturday, the 8th, a little before one o'clock in the 
afternoon, while the Monitor was stiU outside the Capes, the 
Merrimac finally came out from Norfolk. She was under the 
command of Franklin Buchanan, whose ability and energy 
had won him a high place in the esteem of his brother- 
officers in the navy before the war. She was accompanied 
by two gunboats, the Beatifort and Ealeigh, of one gun 
each. Turning directly into the channel by wliich she could 


reach. Newport News, the Merrimac approached the two 
vessels at anchor. The latter had been cleared for action, 
the Cumberland when the enemy was sighted, and the Con- 
gress after he had entered the James Eiver channel. They 
would have been no better off if they had got tinder way ; 
the wind was Ught, and their tug, the Zouave, was not pow- 
erful enough to tow them off. Soon after two o'clock the 
Merrimac opened iire with grape from her bow gun. Pass- 
ing along the starboard side of the Congress, whose shot re- 
bounded from her iron side like pebbles, she steered directly 
for the Cumberland. The latter received her with a dis- 
charge of shot which entered the port, knocked off the muz- 
zles of two guns, and killed or wounded nineteen men, but 
did not stop her progress. Approaching steadily, bows on, 
she raked the sloop with her pivot gun, and keeping her way, 
struck her full under the starboard fore-channels, delivering 
her fire at the same time. The force of the blow drove the 
Men-imao's ram so far into the planking that it was wrenched 
off, as she withdrew ; and a hole was opened in the side of 
the Cumberland, into which the water rushed in a full stream. 
The bow of the Cumberland immediately began to settle, 
and her fate was decided. Nevertheless she continued to 
fight with the persistence and energy of desperation. The 
gun's crews kicked off their shoes, and stripped to the waist. 
Tanks of cartridges were hoisted on the gun-deck and 
opened, and round after round was fired at the ironclad. 
Never did a crew fight a ship with more spirit and hardi- 
hood than these brave fellows of the Cumberland while the 
vessel was going down. Nor was it a mere idle display of 
gallantry, this holding on till the last ; for in these days, 
in naval battles, the game is not over until the last gun is 
fired, and a chance shot may recover the day for a seemingly 
beaten combatant. 

64 TJtUfi iiLiUUJS.A.JJ±li AIMU inJ!i <jXvuj.ojacvo. 

For three-quarters of an hour, from the time -when the 
Cumberland was stnick until she sank, the enemy's fire 
was concentrated upon her with terrible effect. A shell 
passing through the hatch burst in the sick-bay, killing 
four of the wounded. On the berth-deck, the wounded men 
were lifted upon racks and mess-chests, to keep them from 
drowning; and as the water rose, those who fell on the 
upper decks were carried amidships and left there. The 
Merrimac hailed and demanded a surrender; but Morris 
returned a refusal. Already, the boats had been lowered 
and made fast in a line on the shore side. At half-past 
three, the forward magazine was drowned, and five minutes 
later the order was given to the men to leave quarters and 
save themselves. The water had now risen to the gun-deck ; 
a last shot was fired as the ship heeled over to port, and 
officers and crew jumped for their lives into the water. A 
moment more, and the Cumberland, with her ensign still 
flying at the peak, sank to her tops. 

While the Merrimac was occupied with the Cumberland, 
three steamers, the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teazer, 
which had been lying at the mouth of the James Kiver, ran 
past the batteries at Newport News, and joining the other 
gunboats, opened a brisk fire upon the Congress, which told 
severely upon her crew. Seeing the fate of the Cumberland, 
Smith sought to escape the enemy's ram by running ashore. 
He set the jib and topsails, and with the assistance of the 
tug, ran up on the flats, hoping in this way to delay the bat- 
tle until the other frigates should arrive ; but his movement 
was only escaping destruction in one form to meet it in 
another. No sooner was the Congress hard and fast than the 
Merrimac, taking a position astern of her, at a distance of 
one hundred and fifty yards, raked her fore and aft with 
shells ; and the smaller steamers joined in the attack with 


spirit and effect. The Congress could only reply -with her 
two stern guns, and these were soon disabled. 

The unequal contest lasted for an hour. The old frigate 
could do nothing. Her decks were covered with the dead and 
dying ; her commander was killed, and fire had broken out 
in different parts of the ship. The affair had ceased to be a 
fight ; it was simply a wholesale slaughter. As the Minnesota 
had run aground, there was no prospect of relief ; and Lieu- 
tenant Pendergrast, upon whom the command had fallen, to 
prevent the useless carnage, hoisted a white flag. 

The Beaufort and Ealeigh were sent alongside the Congress 
to receive possession and to remove the prisoners ; but a 
sharp fire of artillery and small arms from the shore drove 
them off. The Teazer was then ordered to set fire to the 
Congress, but she also was beaten back. The Merrimao 
thereupon renewed her fire, using incendiary shot, and the 
people of the Congress, who had remained passive while the 
contest was going on over and around them, manned their 
boats and escaped to the shore. The ship, left to herself, 
continued to bum slowly, and at one o'clock the next morn- 
ing she blew up. 

While these battles were in progress, the two screw-frigates, 
which formed the only effective force on the ground, made 
an effort to get into action, but not with any great success. 
The Minnesota, under Captain Van Brunt, was the iirst to 
move, getting under way soon after the enemy was sighted, 
at a signal from the Eoanoke. As she passed Sewall's Point, 
the batteries opened fire on her, but did not stop her prog- 
ress. After steaming five mUes she grounded. She was then 
a mile and a half from the scene of action. When the aban- 
donment of the Congress left the Merrimac free to engage a 
new antagonist, she turned her attention to the stranded 
frigate. Fortunately for the latter, the Merrimac drew too 


much water to approach within less than a mile of her posi- 
tion ; and her fli-e at this distance was ineflfective. The 
Patrick Henry and Jamestown, taking their position on the 
bow and stern of the Minnesota, did her more injmy with 
their rifled guns than did their powerful consort. The 
Minnesota's fire had no effect upon the Merrimac, but she 
succeeded in beating back the gunboats ; and during two or 
three hours of conflict, neither side gained or lost. 

The Eoanoke, which was disabled by a broken shaft,' got 
under way soon after the Minnesota, and with the assistance 
of a couple of tugs, moved slowly in the direction of New- 
port News. She went far enough to see the Cumberland 
sink and the Congress surrender. Soon after the second 
event, she grounded ; but the tugs managed to tow her 
head around and to get her afloat. Sending the tugs to as- 
sist the Minnesota, the Eoanoke now withdrew and dropped 
down to her anchorage. 

As the Koanoke was on her way back, the St. Lawrence 
passed her, making her way laboriously to the scene of action 
in tow of a gunboat. Captain Purviance, with a gallantry 
that deserved a better instrument, was endeavoring to bring 
his fme old fifty-gun frigate to battle with the ironclad. 
Fortunately for him and for his ship, he also went aground, 

1 Captain Fox, iu his testimony before the Select Committee on March 19, 1862, 
Bays : " The shaft of the Roanoke was broken about the 5th of November, and it 
was behoved that it could be repaired in about two months. That was the report 
made to us. But upon inquiry, it was found that every forge in the country 
capable of doing the work was employed. There being a large number of con- 
tracts out for steamers, every one of which must have a shaft, every available 
forge in the country was running to the utmost of its capacity. Finally, we 
found one establishment that agreed to forge the shaft, but refused to turn and 
finish it, which, of itself. Is as important and dillloult a matter as the, forging. 
The Government had no adequate means to turn such an enormous piece of forg- 
ing. They undertook it, however, with such means as they had at the New Yoik 
Navy Yrtrd, and it is now about finished, although it broke every piece of machin- 
ery they had which was put upon it, and special machinery had to be made for it.'* 


wUle still at some distance from tlie enemy, against whom 
he discharged a series of futile broadsides. Night was now 
approaching ; and the St. Lawrence slowly returned to her 
place in the roads below. 

At seven o'clock the Merrimac ceased fitring, and with- 
drew to Sewall's Point. She had done a good day's work. 
She had sunk one of her opponents, and burnt another. 
Only daylight was needed to capture or exterminate the rest. 
She saw her prey within her grasp ; and By all human calcu- 
lation the whole force must fall into her hands on the next 
day. The conflict had left her without any material injury ; 
and she returned to her anchorage fully satisfied with the 
work of the day, and the prospects for the morrow. 

But an event had already occurred which put a new aspect 
upon affairs in Hampton Eoads. At four in the afternoon 
the Monitor had passed Cape Henry. Her officers had heard 
the heavy firing in the direction of Fortress Monroe, and the 
ship was stripped of her sea-rig and prepared for action. A 
pilot-boat, spoken on the way up, gave word of the disastrous 
engagement that had just ended ; and presently the light of 
the burning CongTess confirmed the news. At nine o'clock 
the Monitor had anchored near the Eoanoke, and Worden 
went on board to report. 

In order to carry out the project of opening the Potomac 
Biver, explicit orders had been given to Captain Marston to 
send the Monitor directly to Washington. Similar orders had 
been sent to Worden, but they only reached New York two 
hours after he had sailed. The state of affairs was such, how- 
ever, that Marston and Worden were more than justified in 
disregarding the orders. No sane man would have done other- 
wise. Worden accordingly proceeded to the assistance of the 
Minnesota, which was still aground off Newport News. Act- 
ing-Master Samuel Howard volunteered to act as pilot. Be- 


fore midnight the Monitor had joined the Minnesota; but 
the frigate failed to get afloat at high water, and the Monitor 
remained by her during the rest of the night. 

At daylight on the morning of Sunday, March 9, the 
Mei-rimac was discovered with her attendant gunboats under 
the batteries at Sewall's Point. The Minnesota lay still in 
the same position, apparently helpless. The diminutive iron 
battery beside her was hardly noticed ; and at half -past seven 
the Merrimac was under way, ^confident of repeating, on a 
larger scale, the victory of the day before. Buchanan had 
been disabled by a wound, and she was now commanded by 
Lieutenant Catesby Jones. She steamed down leisurely 
toward the Eip Kaps, turned into the Minnesota's channel, 
and opened Are while still a mile away. She succeeded in 
putting a shot under the Minnesota's counter, near the water 
line, but did no further injury. The Monitor's anchor was 
up, her men at quarters, her guns loaded, and everything 
ready for action. She immediately got tmder way, to en- 
gage as far as possible from the Minnesota, and, to Van 
Brunt's surprise and relief, headed directly for the Merri- 
mac's starboard bow, covering the frigate. Worden reserved 
his flre until he was close upon the enemy ; then, altering 
his course, he gave orders to commence firing, and, stopping 
the engine, passed slowly by. The Merrimac returned the 
flre, but with little effect ; the turret was a small target, and 
the projectiles passed over the low deck. Shell, grape, 
canister, and musket balls, flew about in every direction, but 
did no injury. Acting-Master Stodder carelessly leaned for 
a moment against the turret, and a shot striking the outer 
wall, produced a concussion that disabled him. As the tur- 
ret was struck the shot glanced off from its curved side ; and 
though, from the imperfections of the machinery, it was regu- 
lated with difficulty, it continued to revolve as freely as ever. 


After passing the Merrimac, Worden turned, and, crossing 
her stern, attempted to disable her screw, which he missed 
by a few feet. Returning, he passed up along her port side, 
firing deliberately. The vessels were so close that several 
times they nearly came in contact. Presently they separated, 
and the Merrimac attacked the Minnesota. In shifting her 
position, she grounded, but got off in a moment. The frigate 
received her as she approached with a discharge froih her 
full broadside and X-inch pivot ; of which Van Brunt ob- 
served, somewhat extravagantly, that " it would have blown 
out of water any timber-built ship in the world." But the 
days of timber-built ships were numbered, and nothing proved 
it more clearly than Van Brunt's ineffectual broadside. The 
Merrimac replied with a shell from her rifled bow-gun, which 
entered the berth-deck amidships, tore four rooms into one, 
and set the ship on fire. The flames were soon extinguished. 
A second shell exploded the boiler of the tugboat Dragon. 
Van Brunt concentrated his broadside upon the ironclad, and 
fifty solid shot struck her side with no more effect than the 
pelting of hail-stones. By the time she had fired her third 
shell, the Monitor had interposed again ; and the Merrimac, 
running down at full speed, attempted to repeat her success- 
ful attack on the Cumberland. Worden saw the movement, 
and suddenly putting his helm hard-£i-port, he gave his ves- 
sel a broad sheer, receiving the blow of the ram on his star- 
board quarter, whence it glanced off without doing any 

During the engagement, Worden had taken his place in 
the pilot-house, from the lookout-holes of which he was able 
to see the course of the action and to direct the working of 
the ship and of the guns. Greene had charge of the turret 
and handled the battery. These two men fought the ship. 
Acting-Master Stodder was at first stationed at the wheel that 


started the revolving-gear, and when he was disabled, Chief- 
Engineer Stimers volunteered to take his place, and did the 
best that could be done in the exhausting work of turning 
the refractory turret. The powder division on the berth- 
deck was in charge of Acting-Master Webber. The pay- 
master and captain's clerk, alsa stationed on the berth-deck, 
passed the orders from the pilot-house. The men had gone 
into the engagement worn out, having had no rest for forty- 
eight hours, and little to eat. But they were picked men, 
and during the short time that Worden had been with them 
he had won, in an extraordinary degree, their confidence and 
regard. Accordingly they did their work with unflinching 
courage and resolution. 

The situation in the turret was a difficult one. Shut up in 
a revolving iron cask, on a moving platform, and cut off from 
the captain except through slow and imperfect communica- 
tion by passing the word, when minutes and even seconds 
were important, Greene fought under heavy disadvantages. 
The direction of the bow and stem and of the starboard and 
port beam were marked on the stationary flooring, but the 
marks were soon obliterated, and after one or two revolutions 
it was impossible to guess at the direction of the ship or the 
position of the enemy. The only openings through which 
anything could be seen were the gunports ; and these were 
closed except at the moment of flring, as an entering shot 
would have disabled the guns. Curiously enough, neither 
of the port-stoppers was struck, though the edges of the 
ports and the turret wall between them were jagged and 
dented by the Merrimac's shot. At last the difficulties be- 
came so great, the revolutions so confusing, and the mechan- 
ism governing the movements of the turret so little under 
control, that it was left stationary, and the ship was fought 
and the guns pointed by the helm. 


After figlLting for two hours, the Monitor hauled off to 
hoist shot into the turret. At half-past eleven, the engage- 
ment was renewed. The enemy now concentrated his fire on 
the pilot-house, which was the weakest part of the vessel. At 
a moment when Worden was looking through one of the 
openings, a shell struck the wall at the opening, and ex- 
ploded. The explosion fractured one of the iron logs of the 
frame, and lifted half-way off the iron hatch that rested in- 
securely on the top. Worden's eyes were filled with powder 
and slivers of iron, and he was blinded and stunned. Blind 
as he was, he could see the stream of light from the roof, 
and unable to determine the extent of the injury, he had the 
presence of mind to give orders to put the helm to starboard 
and sheer off. With the captain disabled and the quarter- 
master dazed by the shook, it was some minutes before word 
was passed to the turret of the disaster in the pilot-house. 
When Greene came out and passed forward he found the 
captain at the foot of the ladder, stunned and helpless, his 
face black and streaming with blood. Leaving him to the 
surgeon, Greene mounted to the pilot-house, while Stimers 
replaced him in the turret ; and the vessel, which during 
these moments of unavoidable delay had been without a cap- 
tain, and steaming no one knew whither, once more faced 
the enemy. 

Seeing the Monitor draw off. Van Brunt, under the suppo- 
sition that his protector was disabled and had left him, pre- 
pared for the worst, and made ready to destroy his ship. 
But, at this point, the Merrimac withdrew to Norfolk. As 
she moved off, Greene fired at her twice, or at most three 
times. He then returned to the Minnesota, and remained by 
her until she got afloat. To have followed the Merrimac 
under the batteries of SewaU's Point would have been run- 
ning a greater risk than the circumstances would warrant, 


considering the important interests at Hampton Eoads, of 
which the Monitor afforded the sole protection. 

It appears that the movements of the Monitor, at the time 
when there was no captain to direct her, led others besides 
Van Brunt to suppose that she had given up the fight ; and 
the assertion has since been confidently made that she was 
beaten and driven off by the enemy. The statement is not 
borne out by the facts, as the Monitor only went off a short 
distance into shoal water, and presently renewed the combat. 
But assuming for the moment that the Merrimac was left in 
possession of the field, why did she not continue-her opera- 
tions ? The retreat of the Monitor would have left matters 
in precisely the situation in which the Merrimac supposed 
them to be when she came out in the morning. It is to be 
presumed that her object then was to destroy the Minnesota. 
The Monitor prevented her for four hours from doing this ; 
now, however, if the Monitor had retreated, why did she not 
attack the frigate ? 

Instead of continuing the fight, the Merrimac steamed to 
Norfolk. Jones gives as his reason for returning that he be- 
lieved the Minnesota to be entirely disabled. What ground 
he had for forming such a belief does not appear. It has also 
been suggested that his pilots led him to suppose that delay 
would prevent him from crossing the bar. But what need 
had he to cross ? The bar was a mile above Sewall's Point ; 
he had anchored safely the night before under the battery, 
and after destroying the Minnesota — supposing that the 
Monitor had disappeared — he could do the same again, and 
go up to Norfolk at his leisure. If, however, his injuries 
were so great that he was compelled to lose no time in re- 
turning to Norfolk, it would seem that instead of his having 
defeated the Monitor, the Monitor had defeated him. In 
truth, the claim that the Merrimac was victorious is singu- 


larly bold, in view of tlae fact that half an hoBi after tlie last 
shot was fired the Minnesota was lying aground in the very 
spot she had occupied in the morning, the Monitor was lying 
alongside her, neither of them being materially injured, 
and the supposed victor was steaming as fast as possible to 
Elizabeth Biver, in order to cross the bar before the ebb- 

Though both the ironclads were severely pounded in the 
engagement, neither had developed fully its offensive strength, 
and all things considered they got off rather easily. The 
only serious casualty on either side was the injury received 
by Worden. The Merrimac leaked somewhat from the colli- 
sion of her unarmed stem with the Monitor's overhang, and 
the plates of her armor were broken where they were stmok, 
but the wooden backing was not penetrated. The roof of 
the Monitor's pilot-house was partly displaced, and one of its 
beams was cracked ; but othervfise the vessel was left intact. 
She was struck twenty-one times ; eight times on the side- 
armor, twice on the pilot-house, seven times on the turret, 
and four times on deck. The deepest indentations on the 
sides were four inches, on the turret two inches, and on the 
deck one inch. Had the Monitor's guns been depressed to 
strike the enemy at the water Hue, where there was only one 
inch of armor, or had the latter concentrated his fire on the 
pilot-house of the Monitor, which was her weakest point, the 
result might have been more decisive. So with the ord- 
nance. The service charge for the Xl-inch guns was fif- 
teen pounds, and the Bureau had enjoined upon Worden to 
limit himself to this, though it was found later that thirty 
pounds could be safely used ; and on the other hand, owing 
to the great demand among the Confederates for projectiles 
at other points, and to the supposition that she would have 
only wooden vessels to encounter, the Merrimac was not sup- 
I.— 4 


pHed with solid shot, which would have been far more effec- 
tive against armor than shells. 

No single event of the naval war produced more momen- 
tous results than the victory of the Monitor. The first day's 
battle in. Hampton Boads had shown that the enemy pos- 
sessed an engine of destruction whose offensive powers were 
a new revelation in maritime warfare. There was nothing at 
hand to offer even a show of effective resistance. On that 
memorable Saturday night dismay and consternation per- 
vaded the fleet ; the Merrimac had the frigates at her mercy, 
and the waters of Hampton Eoads under her control. To all 
appearances the confidence of the country in its navy was on 
the point of being rudely shaken by the sudden destruction 
of a large force of its most powerful ships. The blockade 
was about to be raised at the point where it had seemed to 
be most firmly established. A roadstead whose occupation 
was of the highest strategic importance was about to pass 
into the hands of the enemy ; and the proposed plan of an 
invasion of the Peninsula would be rendered impracticable if 
the army's base and communications were threatened by the 
Merrimac. It was even feared that the ironclad would issue 
from the Chesapeake and levy contributions on Northern 
ports; and though it was afterward known that she could 
not have gone to sea with safety, the fact that she was at 
large and that her egress was unchecked would have pro- 
duced incalculable mischief both at home end abroad. 

But the renown of the Monitor and of the gallant officer 
who commanded her rest no less on the courage and conduct 
that carried her to victory than on the importance of the ac- 
tion and the dramatic interest that surrounded it. The expe- 
dition had started from New York as a forlorn hope. To 
Worden it was doubly so, for he had left a sick-bed to as- 


sume the command, and lie had been told by his physician 
that he could hardly hope to come back aUve. With a forti- 
tude beyond aU praise he held to his purpose, and carried 
the experimental craft through her first perilous searvoyage. 
After two sleepless days and nights he entered Hampton 
Eoads, only to find that the fleet was demoralized and that 
the whole weight of the crisis rested upon him. With hardly 
a moment for rest or for preparation, he took his untried ves- 
sel boldly into action with an enemy whose powers had just 
been proved iu a successful engagement, and whose enor- 
mous size caused his little battery to sink'into comparative 
insignificance. The close of the battle found the enemy in 
retreat, the blockade unbroken, the fleet saved, and the 
Eoads reconquered. For these overwhelming results, and 
for the skill and heroism that achieved them in the face of 
extraordinary difBculties, the names of Worden and the Moni- 
tor will always be linked by the country in affectionate re- 

1 Though not, strictly speaking, within the province of history, it may be worth 
while to quote here, as it has never before been made public, a touching letter which 
was sent to Worden by the crew of the Monitor at the time when he was lying in 
Washington disabled by his wound. As an expression of genuine feeling from 
rough and untrained men, and as showing the enthusiastic devotion which Wor- 
den had gained from his crew, its interest is both human and historical. 

To Captain WorOen. 

"Hampton Eoads, April 24th, 1862. 


'* To ovr Dear and honored Captain. 

"Dear Sik : These few lines is from your own crew of the Monitor, with their 
kindest Love to you their Honored Captain, hoping to God that they will have 
the pleasure of welcoming you back to us again soon, for we are all ready able and 
willing to meet Death or any thing else, only give us back our Captain again. 
Dear Captain, we have got your Pilothouse fixed and all ready for you when you 
get well again ; and wo all sincerely hope that soon we will have the pleasure of 
welcoming you back to it. . . We are waiting very patiently to engage our 
Antagonist if we could only get a chance to do so. The last time she came out 
we all thought we would have the Pleasure of sinking her. But we all got disap- 


After the battles of the 8th and 9th of March, Buchanan 
was relieved, in consequence of his wound, by Commodore 
Tattnall, who assumed command of the "naval defences of 
the waters of Virginia " on the 29th. His fleet was composed 
of the same vessels that had taken part in the two actions. 
The Merrimac came out of dry-dock on the 4th of April. 
She had been thoroughly repaired, and was in as good con- 
dition as before the engagement. Another layer of iron had 
been partially put on, a new ram had been adjusted, and she 
was furnished with solid shot. Her only weak points were in 
her ports, which were without covers ; and in her engines, 
upon which full dependence could not be placed. 

On the morning of April 11, the Merrimac steamed down 
the river, and came out into Hampton Eoads. - Goldsborough 
had now returned from the Sounds. The Minnesota, with 
the Monitor and the other vessels of the squadron, was lying 
at Fortress Monroe; or a little below ; and the Merrimac took 
her position between SewaU's Point and Newport News, out 
of range of the guns of the fort. 

Goldsborough, impressed with the importance of keeping 
the Merrimac in check, in order that she might not interfere 
with McOlellan's operations, and in accordance with the 
wishes of the Department, was inclined to take no unneces- 
sary risk, and to do nothing that would precipitate a conflict. 

pointed, for we did not fire one shot and the Norfolk papers says we are cowards in 
the Monitor — and all we want is a chance to show them where it lies with you for 
our Captain We can teach them who is cowards. But there i3 a great deal that 
wo would like to write to you but we think yon will soon be with us again your- 
self. But we all join in with our kindest love to you, hoping that God will restore 
you to lis again and hoping that your sufferings is at an end now, aud we are all 
so glad to hear that yonr eyesight will be spaired to you again. We would wish to 
write more to you if we have your kind Permission to do so but at present we all 
conclude by tendering to you our kindest Love and affectiop, to our Dear and 
Honored Captain., 

" We remain tintill Death your Affectionate Crew 

*'The Monitor Boys." 


He had no intention of taking the offensive, or of engaging, 
except nnder the most favorable circumstances. Additions 
to his force -were expected to arrive shortly, and the situation 
■was considered too critical to leave anything to chance. No 
action therefore took place, the vessels of the squadron hav- 
ing steam up, but remaining in their position near the fort. 

A large number of transports, store-ships, and chartered 
vessels were lying at this time in or about the Roads. Golds- 
borough had cautioned them about the danger of lying near 
Hampton, and most of them had withdrawn below the fort. 
On the 11th, however, two brigs and a schooner, employed 
by the Quartermaster's Department, were still lying between 
Newport News and Hampton Bar. By Tattnall's direction 
the Jamestown and Raleigh steamed across, captured the ves- 
sels, and brought them over to Sewall's Point, in full sight of 
the fleet. Humiliating as the incident was, it was not of suffi- 
cient importance to change Goldsborough's plan, supposing 
that his plan was right. In the occurrences of this day, the 
Department commended Goldsborough's action, and it left 
to his discretion the conduct of subsequent operations. 

Matters remained in this position for nearly a month, the 
squadron having been increased during this time by the ad- 
dition of the new ironclad Galena, the Vanderbilt, and other 
vessels. In May it became apparent to the Confederates 
that the progress of military operations would compel the 
abandonment of Norfolk, and consultations were held by 
the military and naval authorities as to the disposition of 
the Merrimao. Early on the morning of May 8, the United 
States steamers Galena, Aroostook, and Port Royal were sent 
up the James River. The Merrimac was at Norfolk, and a 
demonstration was made by the rest of the squadron against 
the battery at Sewall's Point. Presently the Merrimac came 
down the river. It was not Goldsborough's intention to 


make a serious attack on the fort, his object being merely to 
ascertain the strength of the works and the possibility of ef- 
fecting a landing of the troops. 

The Monitor had orders to fall back into fair channel way, 
and only engage the Merrimao seriously in such a position 
that the Mianesota and the other vessels could run her down, 
if an opportunity presented itself. According to Goldsbor- 
ough, "the Merrimac came out, but was even more cautious 
than ever. The Monitor was kept well in advance, and so 
that the Merrimac could have engaged her without difficulty 
had she been so disposed; but she declined to do it, and 
soon returned and anchored under Sewall's Point." ' 

On the 10th, Tattnall learned that the fort at Sewall's 
Point had been abandoned, and that the United States troops, 
having landed at Ocean View, were rapidly advancing on Nor- 
folk. By the evening Norfolk had surrendered, and he re- 
solved to withdraw to the James Eiver. The pilots informed 
him that they could take the ship up with a draft of eighteen 
feet. The Merrimac drew twenty-two feet, and preparations 
were made to lighten her. After working half the night, and 
stripping the ship so that she was unfit for action, the pilots, 
apparently not wishing to go out, declared that it would be 
impossible to take her up as far as Jamestown Flats, the 
point to which McOlellan's army was supposed to have occu- 
pied the river. Tattnall thereupon concluded to destroy his 

1 It is impossible to reconcile the statements of the two opposing commanders, 
in regard to the events of this day. Tattnall says: " We passed the battery and 
stood directly for the enemy for the purpose of engaging him, and I thought au 
action certain, particularly as the Minnesota and Vanderbilt, which were an- 
chored below Fortress Monroe, got under way and stood up to that point, appar- 
ently with the intention of joining their squadron in the roads. Before, how- 
ever, we got within gunshot, the enemy ceased firing and retired with all speed 
under the protection of the guns of the Fortress, followed by the Virginia, until 
the shells from the Rip Raps passed over her. The Virginia was then placed at 
her moorings near Sewall's Point." 


ship ; and, setting her on Are, he landed his oflScers and men 
and escaped by way of Suffolk. At five o'clock on the morn- 
ing of the 11th the Merrimac blew up. 

Possession of Norfolk being now restuned, active opera- 
tions came to an end, and the blockading station at Hampton 
Eoads ceased to be the scene of conflict. The Monitor, after 
remaining aU summer in the James River, was sent to Wash- 
ington for repairs in September, and two months later re- 
turned to Hampton Eoads. 

The career of the Monitor was now nearly over. On the 
afternoon of the 29th of December, she set out for Beaufort, 
N. 0., in tow of the Rhode Island. Admiral Lee had left the 
time of departure at the discretion of Bankhead, the com- 
mander of the Monitor ; and the latter chose a clear pleasant 
day, when a light wind was blowing from the southwest, and 
everything promised fair weather. The passage to Beaufort 
was about as long as that from New York to Hampton Roads. 
The Monitor was accompanied by the Passaic, which was in 
tow of the State of Georgia. All went well until the morning 
< >i the second day, when the ships began to feel a swell from 
the southward. Gradually the wind freshened, and the sea 
broke over the pilot-house of the Monitor. The weather was 
threatening all day, with occasional squalls of wind and rain : 
but the bilge-pumps were kept at work, and the ironclads 
remained free from water. 

As evening came on, and Hatteras was passed, matters be- 
gan to grow worse. The wind increased and hauled to the 
southward, causing a heavy sea. As the Monitor rose to the 
swell, the projecting armor of her bow received the shock of 
the advancing wave full on its flat under-surface, coming 
down with a clap like thunder. The sea rose fast, submerg- 
ing the pilot-house, and forcing its way into the turret and 


blower-pipes. Trenchard, yrho commanded the Bhode Island, 
stopped his vessel, to see if the Monitor woiild not ride more 
easily or make less water; but the inert mass of iron only fell 
off and rolled heavily in the trough of the sea. Again the 
Rhode Island started, with the Monitor yawing and plunging 
behind her. The strain on her forward overhang had loosened 
the plates under her bow, and she began to leak ; and though 
all the pumps were working, the water gained on them fast. 
At ten o'clock it became evident that no efforts would avail 
to save the ship ; and Bankhead made the signal of distress, 
cut the hawser, and ranged up under the lee of the Rhode 
Island. Boats were lowered, and the dangerous work began 
■ of removing the crew of the sinldng ironclad, over whose 
deck the seas were now breaking in quick succession. As the 
vessels touched, r6pes were thrown over the Rhode Island's 
quarter ; but the crew could not or would not seize them. 
The Rhode Island's cutter took aS a boat-load of men suc- 
cessfully, but the launch was stove by the working of the 
Monitor; and Trenohard, iinding that his own vessel was 
imperilled by the sharp bow and sides of her companion, was 
obliged to move away. 

It was now nearly midnight ; the ship was sinking fast, the 
rising water had put out the flres, engines and pumps had 
stopped, and again the Monitor fell off into the trough of the 
sea, where she rolled sluggishly. Seeing this, Bankhead let 
go the anchor, which brought her head to wind. The greater 
part of the crew had now been rescued ; but a few had been 
washed overboard, and twenty or so still remained on board, 
waiting for the boats to return. During these trying mo- 
ments Bankhead set a bailing party at work, not in the hope 
of reducing the water, but to give occupation to his men. 
Slowly and cautiously the last boat approached, keeping off 
with her oars from the side of the ironclad, and wMle Bank- 


head held the painter she took oflf the remnant of the crew, — 
all but a few poor fellows who, dazed and terrified, could not 
be made to leave the turret. Last of all Bankhead jumped 
in, and the boat pulled toward the Ehode Island, and was 
got safely on board. A few moments more, and the Monitor 
slowly settled and disappeared. 
I.— 4* 



The first step in the estabHshment of tlie Atlantic block- 
de was the proclamation issued by Commodore Pendergrast, 
till in command of the Home Squadron at Hampton Roads, 
'he only effective blockade then existing was maintained by 
tie Cumberland, and such other vessels as had been hastily 
oUected, in the neighborhood of Fortress Monroe. In car- 
ying out the plan, it was decided to put the whole force 
n the Atlantic coast imder one conunand, and Commodore 
Itringham was accordingly appointed flag-offlcer commanding 
h.e Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The Minnesota, which 
ad been laid up in ordinary at Boston, was assigned to him 
s flagship, and on the 13th of May he arrived at Hampton 
loads, and entered upon his command. 

The instructions sent to Stringham on May 1 will serve 
show exactly the views of the Department in its first 
fforts to establish the blockade. They were as follows : 

" The President, by Proclamation of April 19, 1861, ordered a block- 
de of the ports within the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, 
"lorida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas; and by a supplemental 
'roclamatiou of the 27th of April, 1861, he extends the blockade so as 
include the ports of Virginia and North Carolina. In pursuance of 
he laws of the United States, and of the Law of Nations, in such cases 
irovided, it becomes necessary that a competent force be posted so as 
prevent the entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. 


" With this view you will establish and enforce a blockade at each 
and all of the ports in the States enumerated east of Key West, and a 
sufficient disposable force will be placed under the command of yourself 
that you may carry these orders into effect. On you will devolve the 
duty of blockading all the ports east of Key West. You will duly 
notify neutrals of the declaration of blockade, and give to it all the pub- 
licity in your power. The blockade must be strict and absolute and 
only public armed vessels of foreign powers should be permitted to 
enter the ports which are placed in a state of blockade. To neutral or 
foreign vessels, that are already in the ports, you will allow a reasonable 
number of days to leave them. The country relies upon your command, 
with the squadron of the Gulf, to make this blockade effectual, so as to 
close all of the ports of the States above named, protect our commerce 
from the depredations of privateers, and contribute, by your activity and 
vigilance, to the speedy suppression of the insurrectionary movements 
and the adjustment of the present unhappy difficulties. It will not be 
improper to state to you that a lawful maritime blockade requires the 
actual presence of an adequate force stationed at the entrance of the 
port, sufficiently near to prevent communication. . . . Tou will 
permit no neutral or foreign vessel proceeding toward the entrance of 
a blockaded port to be captured or detaine'd if she shall not have pre- 
viously received from one of 1;he blockading squadron a special notifica- 
tion of the existence of the blockade. 

"This notification must be inserted in writing on the muster-roll of 
the neutral vessel, by the cruiser which meets her ; and it should con- 
tain the announcement, together with statements of the day and the 
latitude in which it was made. 

"The United States have at all times maintained these principles on 
the subject of blockade, and you will take care not to attempt the appli- 
cation of penalties for a breach of blockade except in cases where your 
right is justified by these rules. " 

The following additional instructions were issued May 4 : 

"The Department would in every instance allow at least fifteen days 
for vessels to depart with or without cargo after the blockade is set with 
a sufficient force. Notice should be given, by such extended publicity 
as you can command, at each and every port as soon as the blockade 
is established. 


"Commodore Pendergrast will inform you of the oomiition of affairs 
nd orders received. He will also assist with the Cumberland in en- 
orcing the blockade for the present. 

"I need not enjoin vigilance and promptness to prevent privateering 
nd depredations. 

" There are several vessels in the waters of the Chesapeake to aid you, 
nd others which are being equipped will soon arrive out and report. 
?he names, oflBcers, crews, and armaments of these vessels are not yet 
eported in full to the Department, in consequence of the haste and 
ctivity necessary to get them afloat at the earliest moment. 

" Some of the vessels can, it is believed, aid in blockading the Mis- 
issippi and Mobile. But much must be committed to your judgment 
nd discretion. 

"Commodore Mervine will shortly proceed to the Gulf with the 
steamer] Mississippi, and other vessels will be speedily despatched to 
einforce the blockading squadron, and close Galveston and other ports.'' 

No time was therefore lost in making a beginning. But 
or the first three months it was only a beginning ; and at 
ome points it cannot be said to have gone so far as that. 
Che Niagara, under Captain McKean, had arrived at Boston, 
Lpril 24, and was sent to New York for necessary repairs. 
Chese were hurriedly completed and she proceeded to 
Charleston to set on foot the blockade at that point. She 
nived at her post on May 11. After lying off the bar four 
lays, and warning several vessels " oflf the whole Southern 
oast,'' for which, as already mentioned, the Government 
fterward paid heavy damages, she was directed to proceed 
o sea to intercept certain shiploads of arms and munitions 
if war, which were known to be on their way from Europe to 
^ew Orleans or Mobile. The Niagara touched at Havana, and 
ater joined the Gulf blockade. The Harriet Lane was off 
Charleston on the 19th, and cruised for some days near that 
jart of the coast ; but the blockade in reality was raised, for 
he port remained open until May 28, when the Minnesota 


arrived. On the same day the blockade of Savannah was es- 
tablished by the Union, a steamer which had been chai'tered 
at Philadelphia five days after the President's first proclama- 
tion was issued. At the beginning of July, the Atlantic 
Squadron comprised twenty-two vessels, but most of them 
were stationed in Hampton Eoads or were cruising at a dis- 
tance from the coast. 

The line of operations of the Atlantic Blockading Squad- 
ron began originally at Washington, and extending down the 
Potomac River and the Chesapeake, passed out to sea 
between the Capes, following the coast to Key West. The 
boundary was afterward fixed at Cape Canaveral. 

Upon this line there were three principal points of block- 
ade, Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah. They became 
centres of blockade in the beginning, because of their com- 
mercial importance ; and the first two remained so until the 
end, because they offered peculiar advantages to blockade- 
runners, and were capable of defence almost to the last 
against attacks by sea. 

The different stretches of coast that lay between and out- 
side the blockade centres had peculiar features of their own. 
Between Washington and Hampton Eoads lay the military 
frontier. The blockade in the Potomac Eiver was therefore 
largely devoted to the restriction of communication between 
the two shores, and to keeping open the water-approaches of 
the capital ; ' and the work of the Potomac flotilla was of a 
kind by itself. Below the Potomac lay the mouths of the 
Virginia rivers, near the upper waters of which were the 
great battlefields of the war ; and the naval operations car- 
ried on in this neighborhood were always subsidiary to the 
movements of the army. 

The Potomac flotiUa was organized in May, 1861, under the 
command of Commander James H. Ward, and formed at first 


a part of the Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On May 31 
Ward attacked the Confederate batteries at Acqnia Creek, in 
the steamer Freeborn, assisted by the other vessels of the 
flotilla, the Anacostia and Eesolute. The shore batteries 
were silenced, and the enemy retreated to their works on the 
heights. This was the first naval engagement of the war. 
On the next day, the Pawnee, tmder Commander Eowan, 
was sent down from Washington, and the attack was re- 
newed, the Pawnee joining in the bombardment with her 
heavy battery. 

On Jime 27, Ward made a landing at Matthias Point with 
a small party of fen. He was accompanied by Lieutenant 
Chaplin of the ^gsfnee. His object seems to have been to 
clear away the J^oods on the point, which afforded shelter 
to the enemy --but he underestimated the force opposed to 
him, and he ftad hardly landed, when a body of troops, 
numbering fo^ or five hundred, came over the brow of the 
hill to attack him. Ordering the men to lie ofi' in their 
boats. Ward returned to the Freeborn, and opened fire on 
the advancing column. Chaplin landed his handful of men 
a second time, and threw up a breastwork ; but about this 
time Ward was killed while sighting his bow-gun, and the 
fire from the vessel ceased. In consequence of this acci- 
dent, signal was made to Chaplin to return ; but the enemy 
had now advanced within two hundred yards, and opened 
a galling fire- upon the party. Chaplin collected his men 
and sent them to the boats, waiting himself until the last. 
When he came to the beach, only one man remained with 
him, and the boat had drifted out. But Chaplin, who was 
a man of uncommon character, was unwilling to bring it 
back under the enemy's fire ; and as the man who was with 
him could not swim, Chaplin took him on his shoulders, 
musket and all, and swam out with liim to the boat. 


After Ward's death, Commander Craven succeeded to the 
command of the flotilla. Occasional brushes with the enemy 
took place, schooners were cut out or burned, and the river 
was kept open until the end of October, when the heavy bat- 
teries thrown up on the Virginia shore made it impassable. 

Early in 1862 the Confederates withdrew from their posi- 
tions along the river. The work of the flotilla in the Po- 
tomac during the remainder of the war, tinder its succes- 
sive commanders, Wyman, Harwood, and Parker, was chiefly 
confined to the suppression of the small attempts at illicit 
traffic which are always found along a frontier of belligerent 
operations. ■ In the other Virginian rivers the flotilla at the 
same time took part in active operations, in •connection with 
the movements of the army and the protection of transports 
and supplies. 

Outside the Chesapeake the real blockade service began. 
A little to the south of the Capes is found the 'double coast 
which extends as :"ar as Wilmington. The peculiar conforma- 
tion of the coast consists of a long narrow belt of sand, jut- 
ting out in three prominent headlands. Cape Hatteras, Cape 
Lookout, and Cape Fear. The sand-belt is broken at inter- 
vals by shallow inlets. Within it lie the two Sounds, exten- 
sive sheets of water, upon whose tributary rivers are a number 
of more or less important towns. Below Wilmington the 
coast sweeps in, describing a long curve, at the southern ex- 
tremity of which, in a deep recess, lies Georgetown. At this 
point the shore begins to assume the insular character which 
is so well defined below Charleston. From here to Fernan- 
dina it forms a series of low swampy islands, separated by 
narrow rivers and arms of the sea, making an intricate 
network of water-courses. At intervals the groups of isl- 
ands are broken by large estuaries at the mouths of rivers. 
There are five of these between Charleston and Savannah — ■ 


Stono Inlet, North Edisto, South Edisto, St. Helena, and 
Port Boyal. Below Tybee Eoads, the entrance to Savannah, 
the same formation continues, with six important sounds— 
Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherine, Sapelo, Doboy, and Alta- 
maha. Brunswick is the only town of importance in this 
region, with an entrance at St. Simon's Sound. From St. 
Simon's the line of islands and sounds continues, including 
St. Andi-ew's, Cumberland Sound at Fernandina, St. John's, 
and St. Augustine. Below this point, the coast of Florida con- 
sists of narrow reaches of sand enclosing long lagoons, only 
broken by small and infrequent passes. In the whole extent 
of the South Atlantic Squadron there were twenty or more of 
these small inlets, in each of which it was necessary to keep 
a vessel, if the blockade was to be rigidly maintained. 

During the summer of 1861 great efforts were made by the 
Confederates to show that the blockade was inefficient. It 
was commonly spoken of in their newspapers as "the paper 
blockade,'' and steps were taken by foreign governments, 
and especially by that of Great Britain, to ascertain its true 
character. The Gladiator, an English cruiser, commanded 
by Captain Hickley, whose name is an all-sufflcient guarantee 
of the accuracy of his reports, made two cruises of observa- 
tion oflf the Atlantic coast, at the beginning and at the end 
of July. On his first cruise, after a careful search, he could 
find nothing in the shape of a blockader between Cape Henry 
and Cape Pear. The force in Hampton Roads was composed 
of the Minnesota, Roanoke, and Susquehanna, the sailing- 
frigate Santee, the Cumberland, and the steamers Anacostia, 
Dawn, Daylight, and Quaker City. On his second cruise, 
the eastern entrance of "Wilmington was still open, as were 
the inlets to the northward ; but four vessels, the frigate 
Roanoke, the small steamer Albatross, and two sailing-ves- 
sels, the St. Lawrence and the Savannah, were cruising off 


the coast. Hictley did not round Cape Fear on his second 
cruise ; had he done so, he would have found one vessel off 
the mouth of Cape Fear Kiver. This was the steamer Day- 
light, which arrived on the 20th of July, and immediately 
notified the commanding officer of Fort Caswell of the estab- 
lishment of the blockade. 

Notwithstanding the very inadequate force on the station, 
the vessels of the squadron acted upon the assumption of 
the existence of an efficient blockade. On July 16, the Brit- 
ish brig Herald, two days out from "Wilmington, was cap- 
tured by the St. Lawrence, on the edge of the GuK Stream, 
two hundred miles from land. This was so clearly a case of 
capture under a "paper blockade," that the Herald was 
afterward released. Three days earlier, Pendergrast, then 
ia command of a projected "West India Squadron," was 
lying at Charleston, and published anew his proclamation of 
April 30, announcing an efficient blockade of Virginia and 
North Carolina, and repeating the warning that he had a 
sufficient naval force "here" (that is, at Charleston) for the 
purpose of carrying out the proclamation. Proclamations, 
however, even though they may be of questionable validity, 
are not entirely without effect. Hickley reported that trade 
on the coast of North Carolina was stagnant ; and, as has 
been already said, regular commerce was for the time being 
actually stopped by the original proclamation of the Presi- 
dent. In the months of June, July, and August forty-two 
vessels entered and cleared at Wilmington, but nearly all 
were small coasters. The arrivals at Charleston, from June 
1 to December 1, numbered one hundred and fifty vessels 
of the same description. Most of these entered at some of 
the numerous side channels to be found in the network of 
inlets in the neighborhood of the port. Indeed, vessels made 
the inshore passage from Charleston to Femandina without 


interruption as late as the end of July, 1861, and perliaps later. 
The Wabash and VandaHa were at this time off Charleston, 
and the Jamestown and Flag off Savannah. These vessels, 
though hardly fitted for the work, nevertheless made the 
blockade legally efficient at the main entrances of these two 
ports. But the intermediate points,- on the coast of South 
Carolina and Georgia, and the whole inland passage, as far 
south as Fernandina, were entirely without a blockade of any 

The increase of the blockading forces, and the gradual 
extension of the blockade, led to a division of the duties of 
the station. The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, in- 
cluding the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, was as- 
signed to Flag-Offloer Goldsborough, who assumed com- 
mand on September 23. Flag-Offioer Dupont was appointed 
to the South Atlantic Squadron, from the northern boun- 
dary of South Carolina to Cape Florida^ and hoisted his flag 
in the Wabash on October 29. Goldsborough remained in 
command just a year. He was relieved September 5, 1862, 
by Acting Eear-Admiral Lee, who retained the squadron for 
two years. The later blockade of Wilmington was brought to 
a remarkable state of efficiency, through the untiring efforts 
and zeal of the officers of the squadron. In the last year of 
the war, when the expedition against Fort Fisher was decided 
on, the command of the North Atlantic Station was offered 
to Farragut, and, upon his declining it. Porter was appointed. 
Porter entered upon his duties October 12, 1864, and Lee was 
transferred to the Mississippi. 

The first step in the conversion of the blockade of the 
North Atlantic coast into a military occupation was the cap- 
ture of the forts at Hatteras' Inlet, by Stringham, with a 
small body of troops under General Butler, August 29, 1861. 
This was followed, in February, 1862, by the expedition of 


Goldsborough and Burnside against Eoanoke Island, and 
the active operations conducted subsequently by Eowan in 
the Sounds. The most important points in the interior 
waters of North Carolina were then occupied, and the small 
commerce in the Sounds came to an end. After a while 
Beaufort became the centre of occupation, though the head- 
quarters of the squadron and the station of the flagship con- 
tinued for a long time to be at Hampton Eoads. 

On the 20th of July the steamer Daylight took her station 
off the mouth of Cape Fear Eiver. With this diminutive 
force began the famous blockade of Wilmington — the port 
which later in the war became the scene of the most bril- 
liant successes of the blockade-runners and the most strenu- 
ous efforts of the blockaders. The town is situated on Cape 
Fear Eiver, about twenty-eight mUes from its mouth. There 
are two entrances to the river, one from the eastward, called 
New Inlet, the "other from the southward at the river mouth. 
The entrances are not more than six mUes apart in a straight 
line ; but between the two lies Smith's Island, a long strip of 
sand and shoal, with the headland of Cape Fear projecting 
far out at the southern extremity. Continuing the line of 
Cape Fear, the dangerous Frying Pan Shoals extend out ten 
miles farther, making the distance by water between the 
two entrances little short of forty miles. 

Each of the channels was protected by strong works, and 
each required a separate blockading force. Smithville, a 
small town on the Cape Fear Eiver about equidistant from 
the two entrances, was the point of departure of the blockade- 
runners. Dropping down from Wilmington to this place, they 
could here await their opportunity and take their choice be- 
tween the main channel and New Inlet, whichever seemed at 
the moment most favorable. Neither presented any serious 
difficulties to the navigator, though vessels entering from 



the south were occasionally caught on " the Lump," a round 
shoal in the channel. To the north of New Inlet, on Federal 

vM- CccjoB Fban 

Entrances to Cape Fear Elver. 

Point, was Fort Fisher. Fort Caswell overlooked, in the 
same way, the mouth of the river. Each of the blockading 
squadrons, obliged to keep out of range of the forts, was 


stationed in a semicircle, ten miles or more in length, with 
its extremities near the shore. The forts kept a sharp look- 
out, and if a stray hlockader ventured in too far, he was 
quickly apprised of it by a shell, and made to keep his dis- 
tance. The blockade-runners, sighting the land toward even- 
ing, would wait outside until it was dark, and then, mak- 
ing a dash at full speed through the fleet, would be under 
the guns of the fort in a twinkling, and safe from capture. 
Such a port, so protected, it was almost impossible to close, 
and fast vessels could sUp in past the most vigilant force. 
Accordingly it was at Wilmington that blockade-running 
maintained itself longest and most actively, after it had 
nearly ceased elsewhere. In 1863-64, it was at its height ; 
but toward the end of the latter year it began gradually 
to decline. Even after the first attack on Fort Fisher, a 
few vessels succeeded in passing in and out with impunity ; 
and the practice only came to an end when the fort suc- 

The improvement in the efficiency of the Wilmington block- 
ade was partly due to the increase in the number of vessels, 
and partly to a better understanding of the exigencies of the 
service. In August, 1862, one of the blockade-running cap- 
tains reports that the vessels of the inshore squadron carried 
lights at their peaks all night ; and the same captain states a 
year later that a portion of the fleet remained at anchor dur- 
ing the night. On the other hand, Admiral Lee, describing 
the blockade of the same port in October, 1864, says that the 
smaller vessels were kfept as near the bar and batteries as the 
state of the weather, the light, and their draft would allow. 
These were pressed in by a line of larger vessels, and these 
again by the divisional officer, moving along the line. Ves- 
sels of the outer line which discovered -blockade-runners 
were allowed to chase, but those on the inner line were re- 


quired to keep their station. All the vessels were kept 
under way all night. In the summer of 1864, the headquar- 
ters of. the squadron were removed from Hampton Eoads to 
Beaufort. In the fall the blockading force at the two en- 
trances numbered fifty steamers, some of them the fastest 
in the 'service. Nowhere was the work of the blockade more 
arduous and difficult than at Wilmington. The squadron 
captured or destroyed sixty-five steam blockade-runners dur- 
ing the war ; and yet they continued to effect an entrance. 
The result only shows that the absolute locking-up of a well- 
fortified port, whose trade ofiers powerful inducements to 
commercial enterprise, is an actual impossibility. 

It was during his service on this station, while in command 
of the Montioello, that Gushing performed two of those dare- 
devil exploits which gave him a name and a fame apart in the 
history of the war. ' The first of these took place in Febru- 
ary, 1864, while the Monticello was blockading the mouth of 
Cape Fear Biver. On the night of the 28th, Gushing fitted 
out two boats, and taking with him Acting-Ensign Jones, 
Acting-Master's Mate Howarth, and twenty men, he pro- 
ceeded past the fort and up the river to Smithville. His 
object was to land at the town, capture the commanding 
officer, and board any vessels he might find ia the harbor. 
It was an enterprise hardly worth the risk, for the danger 
was great, and the capture of a dozen commanding officers at 
such posts as Smithville would not compensate, for the loss 
of one Gushing. Still, Cushing's coolness and audacity 
would counterbalance almost any risk, and he had no idea of 
being lost on this occasion. 

The party reached the town, and landed in front of the ho- 
tel. Concealing his men under the bank, Gushing proceeded 
to capture some negroes, from whom he obtained the infor- 
mation he wanted; then, taking with him the two officers 


and a seaman, he walked to General Herbert's headquar- 
ters. On the opposite side of the street were the barracks, 
in which the garrison was quartered, numbering about 1,000 
men. Unfortunately, the General was out, having gone to 
WUmington. Gushing entered the house with his party 
and captured an engineer oiHcer. The Adjutant-Gerfer'al was 
also in the house, but went off in haste to the woods, and 
neglected to call out the garrison. Gushing returned quietly 
with his prisoner to the boat, passing within a few yards of 
the sentry on the wharf. A few minutes after he had em- 
barked the alarm was given, and signal was made to Fort 
Gaswell that boats were in the harbor; but the party had 
passed the fort before it could open fire. 

The second expedition was made in the following June. 
Gushing had received permission from Admiral Lee to at- 
tempt the destruction of the Gonfederate ram Ealeigh, sup- 
posed to be lying in the river. On the night of the 23d of 
June, he left his ship, the Montioello, in the first cutter, 
with Jones and Howarth, the same officers thai had accom- 
panied him on his previous expedition, and fifteen men. 
Pulling up the river, the party passed the forts and the town 
of Smithville. Meantime the moon had come out, and when 
about fifteen miles from the niouth of the river, they were 
discovered by sentries on the bank. Making a feint of going 
back, Gushing doubled as soon as he reached the shadow of 
the opposite bank, and continued on his course. Toward 
morning, when within seven miles of Wilmington, he landed 
and hid the bo^t in a swamp. The boat's crew remained all 
day in coneeaUnent, watching the river. At night, as they 
were preparing tq move, two boats were captured, containing 
a fishing party returning to Wilmington, who were pressed 
into service as guides. 

During the remainder of the second night. Gushing was 


occupied in making a thorough, examination of the obstruc- 
tions three miles below the town. At daybreak he moved 
up one of the creeks, until he found a road. Leaving a few 
of his men with the boat, he landed, and followed the road 
until he came upon the main road between Wilmington and 
Fort Fisher. Presently, by lying in wait, he captured a 
mounted courier with the mail from the fort,, which contained 
much valuable information. The courier from the town 
came along two hours later, but, catching sight of a blue- 
jacket, made off with all speed. Gushing galloped after him 
on the captured horse, but the second courier was better 
mounted than the first, and made his escape. 

Gushing had now been away from the boat for some hours, 
and his men had had nothing to eat. He therefore set 
about in a characteristic way to obtain provisions. After 
capturing other prisoners, he learned that a store was to be 
found two miles off; and mounting Howarth on the captured 
horse with the courier's coat and hat, he sent him to market. 
Howarth, who was a man of easy manner and a fine assur- 
ance, engaged freely in conversation with the people whom 
he met on the road, and passed without suspicion. Presently 
he returned with a supply of provisions. After dinner, the 
party amused themselves by cutting the telegraph wires, and 
at dark they rejoined the boat. 

The third and last night in the river had now begun, and 
Gushing prepared to return. Embarking with the prisoners, 
he went to examine the condition of the Ealeigh, She was 
found to have been destroyed, and was now a total wreck. 
Proceeding down the river, Gushing set his prisoners adrift 
in boats, without oars or sails, so that they might not report 
his presence too early. The moon had now risen, and as he 
reached the mouth of the river, he was discovered by a 
guard-boat. Just as he was preparing to attack her, three 


others came out from the shadow, and at the same instant 
five more appeared from the other side. The cutter was 
nearly surrounded, and Gushing, turning in the only dii-ec- 
tion left open, found a schooner filled with troops ahead of 
him. It seemed now that the game was up ; but Oushing's 
never-failing pluck stood by him. He made a dash in the 
direction of the western bar, and the enemy endeavored to 
intercept him ; but as the side of his boat that was toward 
them was in shadow, they lost sight of him for a time. Tak- 
ing advantage of a favorable moment, Gushing turned sud- 
denly and headed at fuU speed for New Inlet. His coolness 
communicated itself to the men; the strokes of the oars 
kept perfect time, and the boat, after a vigorous pull, shot 
ahead into the breakers. Here the enemy did not venture 
to follow ; and the cutter was brought back after her three 
days' absence, without any casualty whatever. 

Only one serious attempt was made by the Gonfederates to 
raise the blockade and put an end to the occupation of the 
Sounds of North Garohna. This took place in 1864, when the 
ram Albemarle made her appearance at Plymouth. This ves- 
sel was built at Edward's Ferry, on the Eoanoke Eiver. At- 
tention had been called to her formidable character as early 
as June, 1863, by Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, command- 
ing the naval forces at Plymouth, an ofiicer whose bravery and 
ability had won recognition both in and out of the service. 
His vessels could not reach the FeiTy, on account of the shal- 
lowness of the water and the batteries that lined the bluflfs ; 
and urgent representations had been made to the Admiral in 
command, to the Department, and finally to the. Secretary of 
War, at Flusser's instance. But no action had been taken, 
and the work of construction went on without interruption. 

By April, 1864, the ram was completed, and preparations 
were made for a combined movement against the Federal 
I.— 5 


forces at Plymouth. On the 17th and 18th, vigoroiis attacks 
were made upon the forts by the Confederates, supported by 
artillery. At this time, the force under I^lusser consisted of 
the Miami, one of the smaller double-enders, the Southfleld, 
and two tugs used as picket-boats. The Miami and South- 
fleld carried a rifled 100-pounder, and five or six IX-inch' 
guns each ; and during the action on shore, by throwing 
shells at the enemy, they helped to repel the assaults on the 
forts. On the evening of the second day, the two vessels 
were lashed together, in expectation of the ram's approach, 
the Miami, Plusser's vessel, being on the starboard side. 

At midnight, the picket-boat annoimced that the Albemarle 
was descending the river. She came down slowly, under 
cover of the trees on the river bank, and as she approached 
the vessels, she ran out obliquely. Passing the Miami's bow, 
she made straight for the Southfleld. Her ports were closed, 
she did not fire a shot ; but she struck the Southfleld fairly 
on the stai'board bow, forcing her ram into the flreroom. As 
the ram was drawn out, the Southfleld filled and sank. 

Meantime both vessels had opened fire on the assailant 
with their heavy guns. The guns had been left loaded with 
shell since the afternoon firing, although the Albemarle was 
expected ; and as the projectiles struck the ram's iron side, 
they burst into fragments which rebounded over the Miami's 
deck. Three or four of the pieces struck Flusser, who was 
instantly killed. Half a dozen others were wounded; but 
the ram received no injui-y. The hawsers that lashed the 
vessels parted, and the crew of the sinking steamer jumped 
to the Miami. The latter then retreated, and with the two 
tugs, dropped down to the mouth of the river. The Albe- 
marle followed for a short distance, and shots were ex- 
changed, but without effect on either side. Next day Ply- 
mouth surrendered. 


It now became a matter of importance to reinforce the 
blockading vessels in the Sounds, as the ram might at any 
moment come out of the river and repossess all the waters of 
North Carolina. Three of the larger double-enders, the Sas- 
saoTis, Mattabesett, and Wyalusing, were sent down, and the 
force was placed under the command of Captain Melancton 
Smith.' The squadron was posted off the mouth of the Koa- 
noke, and careful preparations were made for the expected 

On the 5th of May the Albemarle came down, accompanied 
by a steamer carrying troops, and a captured army-transport 
loaded with provisions and coal, prepared for an extended 
cruise in the Sounds. The squadron got under way, and 
met her about ten miles from the mouth of the river. At a 
little before five iu the afternoon she opened the engagement, 
by firing two shots at the Mattabesett, the leading vessel. 
The latter, followed by the Sassacus and Wyalusing, passed 
up alongside the Albemarle, delivering their broadsides a,t a 
distance of one hundred and jSfty yards. Turning, they 
came back on the opposite side, and the smaller vessels took 
their place. The ram was thus placed between two fires. 
The Sassacus, which had drawn off a little from the line, now 
turned, and, gathering headway, struck the enemy fairly 
with her stem, just abaft the beam. Though the double- 
enders were not adapted for ramming, it had been decided 
to try this, as well as every other expedient, in the hope of 
inflicting some injury. The ram careened a little, but did 
not sink ; and as the Sassacus remained alongside, the Albe- 
marle's port opened, and a 100-pound Brooke rifle-shot 
was discharged through one of the boilers of the double- 

* Each of these vessels carried the following armament : two 100-pound Par- 
rotts, four IX-inch guns, four S4-pounders, two IS-pound howitzers. The Sas- 
sacus had two SO-pounders in addition. 


ender. The escaping steam filled the vessel, scalding many 
of the crew, and she drifted off, firing until out of range. 
The other vessels continued the action until dark, but with- 
out disabling the enemy. At night, the ram returned to the 
river, her armor somewhat battered, but her machinery ap- 
parently intact. Though not destroyed, she had been 
severely hammered ; the store-vessel she had brought with 
her was captured ; and her projected conquest of the Sounds 
came to naught. The next time she ventured down the 
river, a shell from the Whitehead caused her to turn back ; 
and she seemed to have no inclination for a second conflict. 

An effort was now made to destroy the ram by placing tor- 
pedoes in the river, but without success. One of these 
attempts was planned and carried out by enlisted men, and 
deserves to be noticed, if only as showing the pluck and de- 
votion of the seamen of the navy during the war. The men 
who took part in the expedition were John W. Loyd, cox- 
swain, Allen Crawford and John Laverty, firemen, and 
Charles Baldwin and Benjamin Loyd, coalheavers. All 
were volunteers from the Wyalusing. On the afternoon of 
the 25th of May, the party ascended the Middle Eiver, a 
small branch of the Roanoke, in a boat, taking with them 
two torpedoes. These were carried on a stretcher across the 
swamps to the main river. Loyd, the coxswain, and Bald- 
win swam the river with a line, and hauled the torpedoes to 
the Plymouth side, above the town. They were then con- 
nected by a bridle, and floated down the river, guided by 
Baldwin. It was his intention to place them across the bcfw 
of the Albemarle, and Crawford, from the swamps on the 
opposite side, was to explode them at a signal. All went 
well until the torpedoes were within a few yards of the ram, 
when the line fouled a schooner. At the same moment, 
Baldwin was discovered by a sentry, and shots were fired, 


followed by a volley of musketry. As success was no longer 
possible, tbe line was cut, and tlie five men made their 
escape, reaching the vessel with difficulty, some of them 
after several days of wandering in the swamps. 

The Department now determined to take energetic meas- 
ures to destroy the Albemarle, and selected Gushing, whose 
latest performances at Wilmington had made him famous, to 
carry out its design. Two steam-launches or picket-boats 
were fitted out at New York under the direction of Admiral 
Gregory, and rigged with spar-torpedoes designed by Chief- 
Engineer Wood. Both the launches were to be used in the 
expedition, but one of them was lost in crossing Chesapeake 
Bay, on the way down from New York. Cushing was not the 
man to be deterred by an accident, and he proceeded to carry 
out his purpose with the remaining boat. 

Late in October Cushing appeared with his launch in 
Albemarle Sound. The senior officer at this time was Com- 
mander Macomb, whose vessel, the Shamrock, was lying with 
the rest of the division in the Sound, some miles from the 
Roanoke. One or two of the small steamers were stationed 
as a picket at the mouth of the river, and midway between 
them and the squadron lay one of the double-enders, as an 
outpost. After a day or two spent in preparations, during 
which several additional officers and men joined the laanch, 
she was taken up the Sound by the Otsego. Eemaining 
alongside until everything was ready, she started up the 
river, on the night of the 26th of October ; but after proceed- 
ing a short distance she grounded, and the time lost in get- 
ting her off made it too late to carry out the purpose of the 
expedition. So the party returned to the Otsego. 

The Albemarle at this time was lying at the wharf at Ply- 
mouth, on the right bank of the river, eight miles from its 
mouth. The stream averaged two hundred yards in width, 


and was lined on both sides by Confederate pickets. A mile 
below the town was the wreck of the Southfleld, surrounded 
by schooners. It was known that the enemy kept a careful 
watch at this point, and that a gun was in position to com- 
mand the bend of the river. 

The launch started for the second time at midnight on the 
27th. The party consisted of Gushing ; three Acting-Master's 
Mates, Howarth, Gay, and Woodman ; Paymaster Swan ; two 
engineer officers, Steever and Stotesbury; and eight men. 
The Shamrock's second cutter, with two officers and eleven 
men, was taken in tow, ready to cast off and to board the 
Southfleld if the party was discovered in passing. The tor- 
pedo was placed at the end of a spar, at the starboard bow of 
the launch. The bow was decked over and carried a 12- 
pound howitzer. The engines were covered with tarpaulins, 
to shut ofif the light and sound, and at low speed the noise 
of the machinery could scarcely be heard. 

The night was dark and stormy, with now and then a heavy 
fall of rain. Most of the officers stood or sat in the forward 
part of the launch. Gushing, Howarth, and Woodman stood 
abaft the deck. Gushing was on the right, holding the tor- 
pedo lines; Howarth, his companion in the enterprises at 
Wilmington, was next him ; and Woodman, who knew the 
river well, was on the left by the wheel. On the deck by 
the howitzer stood Gay ; and Swan was on the right behind 
Gushing. The engineers and the firemen were at their post 
by the engine, and the rest were stationed on the bow, near 
the wheel, and in the stern. The last were to clear the tiller 
ropes, in case they should foul. 

Eunning cautiously under the trees on the right bank, the 
launch proceeded on ];.er way up the enemy's river. It was 
Cushing's intention, if he could get ashore imobserved, to 
land below th^ ram, board her from the wharf, and bring 


her down tlie river. To caiTy out this plan, it was necessary 
that the attack should be a surprise ; but, failing in this, he 
was prepared to attack with the torpedo. In either case, he. 
meant to give the enemy as little warning as he could. After 
the first mile or two, perfect silence was maintained, and the 
little craft sped noiselessly on its course. Arriving at the 
Southfield, it passed her withiu twenty yards, but the guards 
either were asleep or failed to notice the two boats as they 
moved along in the darkness. Eoimding the bend of the 
river, the launch came to an open reach upon which lay 
the town of Plymouth. Here a fire had been kindled on 
the bank, which reflected a faint light over the water from 
the houses. 

Creeping along silently and stealthily, the launch ap- 
proached the landing below the wharf. Just then a dog 
barked, and a sentry, aroused, discovered the boat and hailed 
her. Eeceiving no answer, he hailed again and fired. Up 
to this moment not a word had been uttered. But in an in- 
stant the situation was changed. The time for surprises was 
past; and Gushing, giving up without a second thought his 
cherished project, at once threw off all concealment, and in a 
loud voice called out, "Ahead fast!" In the same breath 
he ordered the cutter to cast loose, capture the Southfield's 
pickets, and go down the river. Pushing on two hundred 
yards further, he saw for the first time the dim outlines of 
the Albemarle, on the port bow, and close aboard. The 
light of the fire showed a line of logs in the water, within 
which, at a distance of thirty feet, lay the vessel. The 
launch was too near the logs to rise over them at the sharp 
angle her course was then making, and Gushing saw that he 
must sheer off and turn before he could strike them fairly 
and with sufficient headway. 

The alarm on board the Albemarle had now become gen- 


eral ; rattles were sprung, the bell was rung yiolently ; and 
a shower of rifle-bullets was poured in upon the launch. 
Swan received a slight wound, and Gushing had three bullets 
in his clothing, but no one was disabled. Passing close to 
the enemy, the launch took a wide sweep out to the middle 
of the river ; then turning, it headed at full speed for the 
ram. As he approached, Gushing, with the rollicking 
bravado and audacity that marked aU his doings, shouted at 
the top of his voice, " Leave the ram ! We axe going to blow 
you up ! " with more exclamations of the same kind, in which 
the others Joiaed. To Gushing, who went into action with 
the zest of a schoolboy at football, and the nerve and well- 
balanced judgment of a veteran, the whole afiair was half 
sport, even while the bullets were flying around him, and 
while he could hear the snapping of the primers, as the guns 
of the ram were brought to bear. Luckily they missed fire. 
As he came near. Gushing ordered the howitzer to be trained 
and fired ; and he directed every movement himself, which 
was promptly carried out by those in the bow. He says of 
this incident in his report: "The enemy's fire was very 
severe, but a dose of canister, at short range, served to mod- 
erate their zeal and disturb their aim." 

In a moment the launch struck the boom of logs, abreast 
of the ram's quarter port, and pressed over them. As it ap- 
proached the side of the ram, the torpedo-spar was lowered ;, 
and going ahead slowly until the torpedo was well under 
the Albemarle's bottom, Gushing detached it with a vigor- 
ous pull. Waiting until he could feel the torpedo rising 
slowly and touching the vessel, he pulled the trigger-line and 
exploded it. At the same second, as it seemed to those in 
the boat, the Albemarle's gun was fired, while the launch 
was within a dozen feet of the muzzle. To Gushing it seemed 
that the shot went crashing through his boat, though in fact 


she was not touclied. A colunm of water, thrown up by the 
explosion of the torpedo, fell in the launch, and the latter, 
being entangled in the logs, could not be extricated. 

When he saw that he could not bring the boat off. Gush- 
ing, after refusing to surrender, ordered the crew to save them- 
selves, and taking off his coat and shoes, jumped into the 
river. Others followed his example ; but all returned except 
three, Woodmaji, and two of the crew, Higgins and Horton. 
Horton made his escape, but the other two were drowned. 
Gushing swam to the middle of the stream. Half a mile be- 
low he met Woodman in the water, completely exhausted. 
Gushing helped him to go on for a little distance, but he was 
by this time too weak to get his companion ashore. Eeaohing 
the bank with difficulty, he waited till daylight, when he 
crawled out of the water and stole into the swamp, not far 
from the fort. On his way he fell in with a negro, whom he 
sent to gain information as to the result of the night's work. 
As soon as he learned that the Albemajrle was sunk, he moved 
on until he came to a creek, where he captured a skiff, and 
in this he made his way the next night to the picket-boat at 
the mouth of the river. 

The rest of the party, unable either to resist or to escape, 
surrendered, and were taken ashore by a boat from the Albe- 
marle. The ram heeled over and sank at her moorings and 
so remained until Plymouth was finally recaptured. 

The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron had but two 
commanders, Dupont and Dahlgren. The transfer was made 
July 6, 1863. Dupont's command opened with the victory 
of Port Boyal, which gave the squadron the best and most 
conmiodious harbor on the Atlantic coast. After the first 
success, the activity of Admiral Dupont, seconded by the 
ability and energy of his captains — a, body of officers remark- 




'&:-'\ g?;«;*;^"sA. Cft«' 





'^■%t;o Cha.n"'^^ 

Entrances to Oharleston Harbor. 


able for their high professional qualities — secured the control 
of the vast network of lagoons and inlets extending on the 
one hand to Charleston, and on the other to Femandina. The 
blockade was made thoroughly efficient in the sounds ; and 
the capture of Fort Pulaski in the following summer, in 
which a detachment from the fleet assisted, made the Savan- 
nah River nearly inaccessible to the blockade-runners. Port 
Eoyal then became the centre of occupation, and the head- 
quarters of the fleet. 

The principal centre of blockade in the South Atlantic was 
Charleston. An attempt was made early in the war to close 
the entrance by placing obstructions in the channel. A 
number of vessels, most of them old whalers, were bought 
for the purpose by the Navy Department at a cost of $160,- 
000. They were loaded with stone and sunk in rows on the 
bar, under the direction of Captain Davis. The plan proved 
a failure, not through any want of skill in carrying it out, 
but from the operation of natural causes. The vessels soon 
buried themselves in the sand, or were gradually moved out 
of position by the action of the water, and blockade-runners 
passed in as freely as if no obstructions existed. The ex- 
periment was tried at other points with the same result, 
and the attempt was finally given up. 

The bar at Charleston extends several miles out to sea, 
and the main ship channel, running nearly north and south, 
follows the trend of Morris Island at a distance of a mile 
from the shore. Daring the first half of the war the bat- 
teries on Morris Island kept the fleet outside the bar, and 
the blockade was maintained at a great disadvantage. More- 
over, several iaiets to the north and south afforded access 
to Charleston for vessels of light di-aft. These were only 
closed after Dupont had taken command. In -the summer 
and fall of 1863 the army, supported by the ironclads, grad- 


Tially drove the Confederates out of their works on the 
Island, and the monitors took their station inside, somewhat 
to the southward of Oumming's Point. Blockade-runners 
were then driven to the use of the Beach channel, at the 
northern side of the harbor. This channel skirted the shore 
of Sullivan's Island, and opened into the harbor through a 
narrow passage close to Port Moultrie. Its outer end lay 
abreast of Breach Inlet, near which was Fort Marshall ; and 
from this point to Fort Beauregard, and thence to Fort 
Moultrie, heavy batteries lined the beach. It became usual 
to send a vessel at night to this entrance, which, weighing 
early, got away from the Breach Inlet batteries before day- 
break. Occasionally it happened that blockade-runners, 
which had come in during the night, would be seen in the 
morning hard and fast aground at the inner entrance. No 
attempt could be made to seize them, lying as they did 
directly under the guns of Moultrie ; but they could be de- 
stroyed by the fire of the monitors, and a collection of 
wrecks was gradually accumulated at this point. 

Toward the close of the war the blockade of Charleston, 
like that of Wilmington, increased in stringency. Dahlgren 
describes it as being perfectly close, until a few very fast 
steamers of trifling draft were built in England expressly 
for the purpose of evading it, and these did not pass with 
impunity. So keen did the watch afterward become that a 
vessel on the way out, whose presence was only known by 
seeing her two masts cut off the light on Sumter, was cap- 
tured by the observer's signalling the cruisers outside. But 
even then the port cotdd not be absolutely closed. The 
"very fast steamers of trifling draft" were so diflScult to 
catch that up to the last moment they were occasionally 
going in and out ; and three or four of them were at the 
wharves of Charleston when the city was taken. 


The Savannah Eiver was easily blockaded after the capture 
of Fort Pulaski. Its channel, narrow and difficult at the 
best, was well-nigh impassable when stripped of buoys and 
lights ; and the fort, lying opposite the narrowest point, pre- 
vented access in the daytime. The principal side entrance 
to the city of Savannah, through Wassaw Sound, was effectu- 
ally closed when the Sounds were occupied after the battle 
of Port Boyal. 

The Confederates were not at any time sufficiently strong 
to raise the blockade on the South Atlantic coast. The raids 
that were made with this object — sudden dashes into the 
midst of the blockading fleet — though well organized and 
conducted, failed to accomplish amy more important result 
than disabling one or two vessels, and increasing the watch- 
fulness of the blockaders. 

One of the boldest of these attemj)ts was made in the 
winter of 1863, oflf Charleston. On the morning of January- 
Si, before daylight, two ironclad rams, the Chicora and 
the Palmetto State, came out of the harbor, criSssed the 
bar, and, under cover of a thick haze, approached the ves- 
sels stationed outside. It happened that at this time two of 
the largest vessels of the blockading fleet, the Powhatan and 
Canandaigua, had been sent to Port Eoyal fof coal and 
repairs. Of those that remained, numbering ten or more 
steamers, the Housatonic was the only war-vessel of consider- 
able size. The others were chiefly purchased vessels and 
gunboats. It was one of the many disadvantages of the ex- 
posed station outside the bar that it necessitated the distri- 
bution of the ships over a wide area, and at this time they 
were spread out in a Hne five or six miles in length. 

The Meroedita was the first vessel attacked. It could not 
be said that she was off her guard, for, only an hour before, 
she had slipped her cable and overhauled a troop-ship, which 


was running for the channel by mistake. She had returned 
to her anchorage, when one of the rams suddenly appeared 
out of the mist, close aboard. The ram lay so low in the 
water, just under the starboard quarter, that the Mercedita's 
guns could not be trained upon her ; and before the steamer 
could move away, a rifle-shell from the ram, passing through 
her condenser and steam-drum, and exploding on the port 
side, for a time disabled her. Stellwagen, the commander 
of the Mercedita, in response to a demand from the ram, 
surrendered, and sent Abbot, his first lieutenant, on board, 
who gave his parole for the oificers and crew. 

The ram now abandoned the Mercedita, and joined her 
consort, which had already engaged Commander Leroy in 
the Keystone State. Leroy had discovered his assailant in 
time to get under way and exchange shots. The enemy, un- 
injured by his flre, succeeded in exploding a shell in his 
fore-hold, and Leroy kept off xmtil the flames were extin- 
guished. Beturning, he attempted, under a full head of 
steam, to run down his antagonist ; but the latter had now 
been joined by her companion, and the Keystone State was 
received with a fire that effectually checked her. Two shells 
burst on her quarter-deck ; others struck the sides, near or 
below the water-line ; and finally one passed through the port 
steam-drum and lodged in the starboard. Her engines were 
now useless, her motive power was gone, the water began to 
pour in through the shot-holes, and the fore-hold was again 
on flre. Thereupon she lowered her colors; but as the 
enemy continued his fire, and did not take possession, they 
were again hoisted and the engagement renewed. 

By this time, nearly the whole squadron was under way ; 
and, at the critical moment, three of the small steamers 
came up, and the rams retreated after a protracted but desul- 
tory conflict. As they went off, shots were exchanged with 


the squadron, but little damage was done on either side, and 
the rams gained a safe refuge under the guns of Fort Sum- 
ter. The attack had been judiciously planned and boldly 
executed, as far as it went ; though it might have been more 
successful if it had been maintained persistently after the 
first onset. Among the vessels of the blockading squadron 
there was a want of systematic co-operation. The first shot 
was fired at five o'clock ; and the rams had not retreated out 
of range until half-past seven. During this period of two 
hours and a half, the brunt of the battle was borne by the 
Mercedita and the Keystone State. The other vessels sup- 
posed that a number of blockade-runners had come in to- 
gether, and no arrangement seems to have been made for 
prompt communication and support. The Memphis came in 
for a share of the attack, but after passing one of the rams 
and discovering its strength in an exchange of shots, she 
steamed out of range to the eastward. The Augusta was 
also engaged, but as she did not get under way until half- 
past six, her part in the action was not important. In fact, 
neither of these vessels was any more fitted than a ship of 
pasteboard to cope with the ironclads ; and their light bat- 
teries made no impression on the enemy. The Quaker City 
was more actively engaged, but with little more effect than 
to divert the attention of the rams, and prevent the Keystone 
State from being blown out of the water. The Housatonic, 
lying at some distance from the scene of conflict, had got 
under way shortly after the Augusta, and dui-ing the last 
hour of the engagement, she did much firing, but little ex- 
ecution, further than to knock away the pilot-house and flag- 
staff of one of the retreating assailants. 

After the engagement was over, a question arose as to 
what was the status of the Mercedita. When Abbot 
went on board the ram, he gave his parole, as already men- 


tioned, in the name of the captain, for the officers and crew. 
The agreement was verbal, and Abbot's report stated that he 
had given his word that the officers and crew would not 
"take Tip arms against the Confederate States unless regu- 
larly exchanged." It does not appear that Abbot had au- 
thority to mate this engagement, but no steps were taken by 
the captain to repudiate it. Possibly there was no oppor- 
tunity to take any steps. In his report, Stellwagen simply 
says : " He proceeded aboard, and according to their demand, 
gave his parole on behalf of himself and all the officers and 
crew.'' In regard to this proceeding, it may be remarked 
that it is a well recognized principle that prisoners cannot be 
forced to give their parole ; and it is manifestly improper to 
give a parole voluntarily, during the progress of an engage- 
ment. It enables the assailant to neutralize portions of the 
force in detail, without being diverted from his operations 
by the necessity of guarding prisoners ; and it precludes re- 
capture, or rather, it takes away any advantage that may be 
derived from recapture. 

At six o'clock, according to Stellwagen's account, which 
was one hour after the engagement began, and an hour and a 
half before it was over, the injuries to the Mercedita were 
partially repaired, and she "got things in order to start, a 
little steam on; hove [up] anchor." It is not clear whether 
she then went ofif, but it is at least certain that she changed 
her position. After the battle she proceeded without assist- 
ance to Port Eoyal. This lemoval of the Mercedita was 
afterward the foundation of a charge made by the Confeder- 
ates that the officers of the vessel had violated their parole, 
by taking the Mercedita out of their hands. The proceeding 
was, in fact, a questionable one, as it is merely quibbling to 
draw a distinction between ' ' taking up arms," and navigat- 
ing a ship-of-war out of reach of an enemy. It can only be 


excused on the supposition that the enemy were unable to 
take possession owing to the presence of a superior force; 
and it shows forcibly the predicament in which an officer 
may place himself by giving a parole which virtually places 
his ship hors de combat during the progress of an action. 

In consequence of the attack of the rams, the authorities 
of Charleston seized the opportunity to declare that the 
blockade was raised. A proclamation was published the 
same afternoon, signed by Beauregard and Ingraham, the 
Commanding General and Senior Naval Officer, declaring 
that the naval forces attacked the blockading squadron, and 
"sunk, dispersed, or drove off or out of sight, the entire 
blockading fleet." The proclamation was accompanied in 
the newspapers by the statement that two vessels were sunk, 
four burnt, and the rest driven away ; and the assertion was 
said to be sustained by the testimony of several of the 
foreign consuls, who had gone out in the afternoon in a tug, 
and had seen nothing of the blockaders. It was also as- 
serted that the consuls had held a meeting in the evening, 
and had come unanimously to the opinion that the blockade 
was legally raised. 

The asseverations of the Charleston newspapers were ex- 
tensively quoted abroad, and grossly exaggerated as they 
were, raised a serious doubt as to the continued efficiency 
of the blockade. It is an established rule that the absence 
of a blockading fleet, caused by stress of weather, if the 
blockade is immediately resumed, constitutes only a tempo- 
ary interruption ; but the dispersion of a squadron by a hos- 
tile attack puts a stop to the blockade in toto, and a renewal 
of the operation requires a new proclamation, or rather, re- 
quires knowledge of the re-establishment of the blockade 
as a ground for condemnation. If the assertion that the 
blockade was raised had been true, every blockade-runner in 


Nassau would have been able to make directly for Charles- 
ton, and if captured without having received warning would 
have escaped condemnation on the ground of want of knowl- 
edge. As a matter of fact, the report so industriously 
spread was essentially false, though ^t had enough color of 
truth to give it a ready acceptance, in the absence of proof 
to the contrary, especially when backed by ofBcial testi- 
mony. Out of ten vessels on the station, two had been dis- 
abled by the attack, and had proceeded to Port Eoyal. Two 
other vessels were sent the same morning to Port Eoyal, the 
Augusta, with despatches for the Admiral, and the Memphis 
to tow the Keystone State. Both were sent back immedi- 
ately by Dupont. In the afternoon, firing was heard in 
Stono Inlet, and the Flag was sent thither. Of the other 
five vessels, the Stettin, Ottawa, and Unadilla were not en- 
gaged at all, and neither they, nor the Housatonic and 
Quaker City left the usual line of blockade during the day. 
If the consuls did not see these five vessels, whose logs show 
that they were in plain sight all day, and several times in 
communication, it was because they did not look at them. 
The report, however, had served its purpose, and it was 
commonly believed that the blockade of Charleston was 
raised, although a written declaration of five captains of 
the sq^uadron was published, containing a complete refu- 

The attack had a good effect in showing the necessity 
of strengthening the force before Charleston, which had 
hitherto only been adequate to cope with blockade-runners. 
The Powhatan was sent to Charleston the same evening, and 
the New Ironsides and Canandaigua joined a day or two later. 
The blockade was thereafter continued with redoubled vigi- 
lance, and with a new sense of the necessity of perfect co- 


The disposition of the vessels of the South Atlantic 
Squadron, as given by Admiral Dupont on February 15, 1863, 
shows what a radical change had taken place under his com- 
mand in the character and efficiency of the blockade. The 
arrangement of the squadron was as follows : 

At Georgetown, the double-enders Sebago and Conemaugh. 

Off Bull's Bay, the steamer Lodona. 

Off Charleston, the New Ironsides ; the side- wheel steamer 
Powhatan ; sloops-of-war Canandaigua and Housatonic ; 
steamers Flag, Quaker City, James Adger, Augusta, Huron, 
and Memphis ; schooners G. W. Blunt and America. 

In Stono Inlet, the steamers Pawnee, Unadilla, and Com- 
modore McDonough. 

In North Edisto, the steamer South Carolina. 

In St. Helena, the bark Kingfisher. 

In Wassaw, the monitor Passaic, and steamer Marblehead. 

In Ossabaw, the monitor Montauk, gunboats Seneca and 
Wissahickon, and steamer Dawn. 

Guarding St. Catherine's, Sapelo, Doboy, and St. Simon's 
Sounds, the steamers Paul Jones, Potomska, and Madgie ; 
barks Braziliera and Femandina ; and mortar-schooner Nor- 
folk Packet. 

In St. Andrew's, the bark Midnight. 

At Femandina, the steamer Mohawk. 

In St. John's Biver, the steamers Nonsuch and Uncas. 

At Port Boyal, the headquarters of the station, were the 
frigate Wabash, the flagship, the storeship Vermont, five 
tugs, and two despatch-vessels ; and temporarily in port, 
imdergoing repairs or taking in provisions, the monitors 
Weehawken and Patapsco, and the steamers Keystone State, 
Stettin, Wamsutta, and Ottawa. The experience of eighteen 
months had wrought a change indeed in the methods of the 
coast blockade, since there were on a single station more 


vessels than the navy had had in commission at the out- 
break of the war. 

The next attempt of the Confederates to raise the blockade 
on the South Atlantic station resulted disastrously to its 
projectors. This was the brief cruise of the Atlanta, formerly 
the Fingal, in Wassaw Sound, in June, 1863. 

The Fingal was an iron steamer of English origin, which 
had run the blockade of Savannah in November, 1861. She 
had been taken by the Confederate Government, re-named 
the Atlanta, and altered and strengthened for service as a 
man-of-war. In making the alterations, she had been cut 
down so as to leave the deck about two feet above the water 
when loaded. From this deck rose a casemate, with a flat 
roof and inclined sides. Within the casemate were four 
Brooke rifles, two VI-,Vinch in the midship ports, and two 
Vll-inoh on pivots at the bow and stem, so contrived that 
they could be fired either laterally or fore-and-aft. The 
armor protecting this powerful battery was four inches thick, 
made of English raUroad iron, rolled into two-inch plates. 
The deck was of enormous strength, and its edges projected 
six feet from the side of the vessel, the projection being 
iilled ia and protected with a heavy covering of wood and 
iron. The Atlanta's bow ended in a ram, over which pro- 
jected a torpedo spar. She was in every way one of the 
most powerful vessels which the Confederates had got afloat ; 
and great things were expected of her. 

Intimations had reached Admiral Dupont that the Atlanta 
and other ironclads at Savannah were on the point of leaving 
Wilmington Eiver and entering Wassaw Sound for the pur- 
pose of raising the blockade at that place, and in the inlets to 
the southward. It was to be another raid on the blockaders, 
Mke that of the 31st of January ; but the vessel to be em- 
ployed was much more powerful. Dupont, however, was 


careful to be well informed, and the experience of the pre- 
vious -winter had not been lost. The double-ender Oim- 
merone was at this time maintaining the blockade alone, and 
two monitors were despatched to Wassaw, the Weehawken, 
under Captain John Eodgers, and the Nahant, under Com- 
mander Downes. The Weehawken had already won an 
enyiable fame, and was known throughout the squadron as a 
vessel that was always ready for any service and always han- 
dled with masterly skill. 

Early on the morning of the 17th of June, the ironclad 
was discovered coming down the river. She was accom- 
panied by two steamers, filled with spectators who had come 
out in the confident expectation of witnessing the speedy de- 
struction of the Federal fleet. It was to be a spectacle, a 
party of pleasure, like that which tempted the people of Bos- 
ton, just fifty years before, to sail down the harbor, on the 
day when Lawrence went out to encounter the Shannon ; and 
like that mejnorable excursion, it was doomed to end in dis- 

As- soon as the Atlanta came in sight, Eodgers beat to 
quarters and cleared the ship for action. Ten minutes later 
he slipped his cable, and steamed slowly around the point at 
the entrance of the river. The Nahant, having no pilot, 
followed in his wake. Just before five o'clock, the At- 
lanta, then lying across the channel and awaiting the attack, 
fired the first shot, which passed astern of the Weehawken. 
For twenty minutes more, the monitors advanced steadily 
until within three hundred yards of the enemy. Then the 
Weehawken opened. 

With the deliberateness which characterized him in the 
most trying moments, Eodgers delivered the fire of his two 
heavy guns, the Xl-inoh and the XV-inch. He fired five 
shots, of which four hit the Atlanta. The first, a XV-inch 


cored shot, struck the inclined side of the vessel, in the line of 
the ports ; and though fired at an angle of fifty degrees with 
her keel, penetrated the armor, and, ripping out the wooden 
backing, the two inner layers of which were of brittle Georgia 
pine, covered the deck with splinters. From the effects of 
this shot, forty or more men were prostrated, several of 
whom received ugly wounds from the fragments of wood 
and iron. The second shot, from the Xl-inch gun, struck 
the edge of the overhang, and started the plating. The 
thu'd carried off the roof of the pilot-house, wounded the 
two pilots, and stunned the men at the wheel. The fourth 
shattered a port-shutter, driving the fragments in through 
the port. 

Upon this the Atlanta hauled down her colors, and hoisted 
a white flag. It was just fifteen minutes after the Wee- 
hawken had commenced firing. The Atlanta was not dis- 
abled, nor had there been any great number of serious casu- 
alties among the crew; but they had had enough. The 
possibilities of a XV-inch gun, fired at a range of two 
hundred yards, were matters that they had no wish to inves- 
tigate further. As Eodgers drily remarked in commenting 
upon the action, the first shot took away their disposition to 
fight, and the third their ability to get away. 

The battle was so short and decisive that the Nahant had 
no opportunity to take part in it. When the Weehawken 
ranged up to her prize, the latter was found to be aground ; 
but she was backed off a few hours later viith little difficulty, 
and steamed without assistance to Port Koyal. 

The engagement of the Weehawken and the Atlanta was 
one of the extraordinary events of the war, and illustrates, 
perhaps better than any other, the revolution which fifty 
years of scientific progress had wrought in naval warfare. 
The action of the Chesapeake and Shannon, which took 


place in June, 1813, off Boston, had enough points of resem- 
blance to make the two engagements a fair subject of com- 
parison. Both were exceptional victories, for so complete a 
victory in fifteen minutes, the time covered in each of the two 
fights, will probably always be exceptional. Nor does the 
resemblance stop here. In both actions the victorious cap- 
tain is one of the marked men of his service — bold but pru- 
dent, attentive to details, minutely careful in preparation, 
skilful in action. Each is a splendid type of his kind in the 
age to which he belongs. As Broke was the model captain 
of his day, so Eodgers is of his. The Shannon was always 
ready for any kind of service, her discipline exact, her crew 
willing, her gunnery precise. The Weehawken shows her 
surpassing excellence in the same qualities ; for no man knew 
better than Rodgers how to get good work and ready service 
from his men. But the captain of 1813 is an able executive, a 
skilful seaman, a capable gunnery officer ; while the captain 
of 1863 is all this, and a man of science in addition. On the 
losing side, the parallel is equally striking. There is in 
both engagements the same negligence of preparation, shown 
in the ease of the Atlanta by the extreme disorder of the 
vessel, and in that of the Chesapeake by the disorganization 
of the crew. There is the same ineffective gun-practice, the 
same speedy demoralization. Both captains are brave men ; 
but both go into action with the same easy confidence, in 
each case fully shared, perhaps largely, created, by the peo- 
ple around them, who go off in pleasure-boats to witness the 
fight, as if it were to be merely an exhibition of fireworks. 

But here the parallel ceases. There is little in common 
between the stately frigates— the Chesapeake, bearing down 
before the wind under all sail, or the Shannon, with her 
lofty spars, and her maintopsail agaiust the mast, and the 
two rafts whose armored citadels protect everything but the 


decks and the ftumel. As little do the batteries of carro- 
nades and long eighteens resemble the Brooke rifles of the 
Atlanta or the hnge Dahlgren smooth-bores of the monitor. 
The mode of fighting corresponds to the character of the 
ships and the weapons. The Chesapeake ranges up along- 
side her antagonist, and the two vessels deliver their broad- 
sides almost in contact. An accident brings them foul: 
and straightway the crew of the Shannon, their captain at 
the head, rush on board the enemy with pike, putlass, and 
pistol. After a bloody struggle, a hand-to-hand pell-mell 
fight, the crew of the Chesapeake is overpowered and surren- 
ders. Fifty years later, the vessels do not approach nearer 
than two hundred yards, and four shots, deliberately aimed, 
settle the whole a£Pair. There is little bloodshed ; no one is 
touched on board the "Weehawken, and the injured among 
the prisoners comprise about a tenth part of the defeated 



The command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron was as- 
signed to Flag-Offlcer William Mervine, who had served in 
California during the Mexican war, and who had now been 
fifty-two years in the service. He arrived in the Gulf on June 
8, 1861, whither he was shortly followed by his flagship, 
the Colorado. Before his arrival the blockade had been set 
on foot by the vessels ah'eady on the station. Some of these 
had pushed westward late in May, and on the 26th of that 
month, the Powhatan, under Porter, arrived off Mobile, 
while the Brooklyn, taking her station on the same day off 
Pass-fi-Loutre, announced the blockade of New Orleans. The 
Powhatan remained off Mobile until the 29th, when she was 
relieved by the Niagara, which came in from Havana. 
Porter then proceeded off the Southwest Pass of the Missis- 
sippi, which he blockaded on the 31st. On the 13th of June 
the Massachusetts arrived off the Passes, where she remained 
on blockade duty. Galveston was invested by the South 
Carolina, on the 2d of July. When Mervine arrived at his 
post on the 8th of June, in the frigate Mississippi, he found 
a beginning already made, and by July he had a force of 
twenty-one vessels. 

Mervine's fii;st act after his arrival on the station was to 
publish a proclamation declaring, in the usual form, that 
" an effective blockade of the port of Key West, Florida, has 
I.— 6 


been established and will be rigidly enforced and main- 
tained against any and all vessels (public armed vessels of 
foreign powers alone excepted) which shall attempt to enter 
or depart from the said port of Key West, Florida.'' As 
Key West was wholly in the possession of the United 
States authorities, and as it is a barren island, dependent on 
supplies by sea for the barest necessaries of life, the procla- 
mation caused some consternation among the inhabitants. 
Next day, however, the order was rescinded, and it was an- 
nounced that trading with the loyal States and with Cuba 
would be permitted under certain restrictions. 

A cruise made by H. M. S. Jason, Captain Von Donop, 
shortly after Mervine's arrival, showed the following disposi- 
tion of the forces in the Gulf :j^he Cuyler was off Tampa 
Bay ; the Montgomery in Appalachee Bay ; the Mississippi, 
Niagara, and Water Witch off Pensacola ; the Huntsville and 
the sailing-sloop St. Louis off Mobile ; and the Brooklyn, 
Powhatan and two gunboats were off the Mississippi Passes. 
The Jason did not go to GalvestoUjT This report, coupled 
with other evidence, goes to show that during the first few 
months, the main entrances to the principal ports in the GuK, 
as in the Atlantic, were efficiently blockaded ; but there was 
no blockade of the intermediate stretches of coast, and the 
side entrances to the ports were also without a guard. 

The general course of operations in the Gulf was similar 
to that in the Atlantic ; and the same plan of converting the*' 
blockade at various points into an occupation was gradually 
but systematically carried out. A lodgment was effected at 
New Orleans before the first year was over, and the necessity 
of a blockade was largely obviated at the most important 
point on the coast. From this base, further operations 
checked the desultory commerce carried on by small vessels 
ill the Louisiana bayous. The occupation of Ship Island 


covered the waters of Mississippi Sound, where a small 
coasting trade with Mobile was, nevertheless, persistently 
carried on. At Pensacola, Port Pickens commanded the 
entrance from the beginning ; and in 1862 the city was 
evacuated, and became the depot of the West Gulf Squad- 
ron. Galveston was occupied by the United States forces 
from October, 1862, until the disaster on the first day of 
1863. During the following year, possession was taken of 
various points in Texas, but the land forces were subse- 
quently withdrawn and the blockade re-established. Fi- 
nally, in August, 1864, Mobile was closed by the surrender of 
the forts to Admiral Earragut and General Granger. 

In the latter part of September, 1861, Mervine was relieved 
by Flag-Officer William W. McKean. It was decided that a 
division of the squadrons in the Gulf was necessary, such as 
had been made in the Atlantic, and the Department- only 
waited until its plan of active operations in that quarter 
could be matui'ed and a sufficient force sent to the station. 
Farragut had been selected to command the expedition 
against New Orleans, and on the 21st of February he as- 
sumed command of the West Gulf Squadron, with a cruising- 
ground extending from Pensacola to the Eio Grande. Far- 
ragut remained in command until late in 1864, when Commo- 
dore Thatcher was appointed to succeed him. 

The Eastern Gulf Squadron extended from Cape Canaveral 
on the eastern coast of Florida, to Pensacola. Its head- 
quarters were at Key West. MoKean remained in command 
until June 4, 1862, when he was relieved by Captain Lard- 
ner. Lardner was soon followed by Commodore Theodoras 
Bailey, who retained the command two years, and whose 
health finally broke down, as did that of many of his offi- 
cers, upon this undesirable station. After a short interval. 
Commodore Cornelius K. StribHng assumed the command 


on the 12th of October, and retained it until the close of the 

The blockade of Florida required a different management 
from that of other parts of the coast. There were no large 
commercial centres which might influence the destination of 
steamers with valuable cargoes ; nor were there any points 
whose position, by giving ready access to the interior, made 
it indispensable that they should be strongly intrenched. 
Hence the main force of the blockade could not be concen- 
trated at a few points. On the other hand, there were innu- 
merable bays and inlets, difficult and dangerous of access, 
where small vessels might enter unobserved, and remain 
concealed for an indefinite time. It was well-nigh impos- 
sible, no matter how large or vigilant the force in these 
waters, to prevent absolutely the trade carried on by these 
vessels. The best that could be done was to keep up a con- 
stant watch, and to scour the coast at intervals, sending in 
small parlies in boats to seize a vessel whenever its presence 
was known. Numberless little affairs thus took place on 
the station — engagements with small batteries, boarding 
parties, cutting-out expeditions, raids upon salt-works, sud- 
den dashes into remote and unfrequented inlets, on dark 
nights, through tortuous channels, usually followed by the 
capture of cotton-laden schooners, or stray boats, or bales 
of cotton, with the loss of a man or two here and there. 

While the Tahoma was lying off Cedar Keys, on February 
23, 1862, a boat expedition was sent in, under Lieutenant 
Orosman, to cut out a schooner lying in the boat-channel 
between Cedar Keys and the mainland, and to capture a 
ferry-boat which had been used for communicating between 
the land and the Keys. Crosman secured the ferry-boat, 
but the schooner lay on the other side of the raUroad trestle 
crossing the channel ; and, night coming on, he was obliged 


to defer operations. Going into the channel next morning, 
he found that the schooner had disappeared; and, as he 
was coming out of the narrow passage, a heavy fire of small 
arms was opened from a stockade on the shore. His men 
were at the oars, pulUng against a strong flood tide and a 
fresh wind ; and the two officers of the boats were the only 
people who could return the fire. The leading boat had 
barely got out of range, when the prize capsized. Nothing 
daunted, Crosman pulled back under the fire of the troops, 
which covered the prize, and endeavored to right her ; but 
after some time spent in unavailing efforts, he scuttled and 
sank her, returning with the loss, of only one man to his 

The ferry-boat Somerset, under Lieutenant-Commander 
Earl English, attacked the salt-works near Dgp5t Key on 
October 4, 1862. After a few shells had been fired, a white 
flag was hoisted on the works, and a party was sent on shore 
to destroy them. No sooner had the party landed, than they 
were fired upon from the building displaying the flag of 
truce, and half of them were disabled. Immediately after 
the affair, the gunboat Tahoma arrived, under Commander 
John C. Howell. A strong force was landed, led by Cros- 
man with his usual energy and judgment, and fifty or sixty 
salt-boilers were destroyed. 

These are only a few out of numberless small affairs that 
took place on the coast. They made little noise, but the 
service was one that involved hardship and danger, and it 
exacted ceaseless activity and untiring effort. It was more 
like the old conflicts of the excisemen and smugglers on 
the Scottish coast than the regular operations of warfare; 
though the contrabandistas of Florida had no occasion to sell 
their lives as dearly as the Hatteraicks of fifty years ago. 

In the West Gulf, the most important points were Mobile 


and New Orleans. The latter was by far the largest and 
wealthiest city at the South ; in fact, it ranked sixth in point 
of population among the cities of the Union. Its tonnage 
movement was enormous, its export trade being one of 
the most extensive in the world. There were two principal 
entrances to the Mississippi, Pass-S-Loutre and Southwest 
Pass, though there were several others of less importance. 
At these two entrances the deposits of mud made by the 
river were continually altering the channels ; and the posi- 
tion of the bar and the depth of water were shifting and 
uncertain. The channel was deeper now in one, now in the 
other, and the commerce of New Orleans varied its course 
accordingly. The smaller passes admitted only vessels of 
the lightest draft. 

The main passes were about fifteen miles in length and 
there were from fourteen to seventeen feet of water on the 
bars at their mouth. The three smaller passes had from six 
to ten feet. At the point of divergence, known as the Head 
of the Passes, the stream of the Mississippi is broad and 
deep, and though the current is strong, there is a safe and 
roomy anchorage. The two forts that formed the main de- 
fences of New Orleans lay twenty miles above this point, and 
there was nothing to obstruct the movements of the block- 
ading fleet between the forts and the bar. It would seem 
that the first step in the blockade of New Orleans would 
naturally be to station a force at the Head of the Passes, 
where all the outlets could be closed at once. It was clearly 
the most economical and most effectual way to blockade the 
river ; but the position was exposed to sudden attacks by the 
enemy, and in order to be maintained successfully, it re- 
quired a force that should combine strength for resisting 
attack with handiness of movement. A sloop-of-war with 
one or two small, active, well-armed despatch-vessels or gun- 



boats, to act as pickets, could close the passage effectually, 
and by tbe exercise of constant vigilance could reduce the 
risk of lying in the enemy's waters to a minimum. 

Early in October, 1861, the squadron was moved up from 
the bar, and took its post at the Head of the Passes. Pos- 
session was taken of the telegraph station, and work was 
begun on a fortification. The force consisted of the Rich- 
mond, commanded by Oaptaia John Pope, the senior officer 
present ; the Vincennes, Commander Eobert Handy ; the 
Preble, Commander French; and the side-wheel steamer 
Water Witch, Lieutenant Francis Winslow. The Vincennes 
and the Preble were sailing sloops-of-war. The Richmond 
was one of the smaller of the first-class screw-sloops built 
shortly before the war, and an admirable vessel, carrying a 
powerful battery of twenty-two IX-inch guns, one 80-pound- 
er, and one rifled 30-pounder. The Vincennes carried four 
Vlll-inch shell guns, and fourteen 32-pounders. The Water 
Witch, a small vessel, well adapted for river service, had 
one 24-pound howitzer, two 12-pounders, and one Dahlgren 
20-pounder. It was known that considerable preparations 
were making at New Orleans to fit out a naval force under 
the direction of Commodore HoUins, and in particular that 
a formidable ram, the Manassas, was in process of construc- 
tion ; but no extraordinary precautions seem to have been 
taken by the blockading squadron to prevent a surprise. 

On the 11th of October, the Water Witch had towed a 
coaling schooner alongside the Richmond, and had afterward 
anchored on her starboard quarter, a little inshore. The 
Preble lay in advance of the Richmond, about one hundred 
and fifty yards off, on her starboard bow. The Vincennes 
was lower down the river, on the opposite side. 

A little before four o'clock, on the morning of the 12th, 
while the watch on deck was getting coal on board the Rich- 


mond from the schooner alongside, a ram was discovered 
close aboard. This was the Manassas, commanded by Lieu- 
tenant-Commander Warley. The Preble saw her at the 
same moment, as well as the prize-schooner Frolic, and 
giving the alarm at once, beat to quarters. A moment later, 
the ram struck the Kichmond abreast of the port fore- 
channels, making a small hole in her side, and tearing the 
schooner from her fasts. The injury was speedily repaired ; 
and the Eichmond, slipping her cable and ranging ahead, 
avoided a second blow on her quarter. The ram, having 
been herself seriously injured by the shock, then gave up 
the attempt, and standing up the river, received broadsides 
from the Eichmond and from the Preble as she passed them. 
Steaming ahead, the Eichmond found herself near the shore, 
and attempted to turn, but only succeeded in getting half- 
way round, with her broadside up and down the river. Or- 
ders were then given to the two sailing-sloops to proceed 
down the Southwest Pass, while the Eichmond covered 
their retreat. 

As the ram passed up the river she fired a rocket. Imme- 
diately afterward three lights were seen in motion, which 
gradually brightened and expanded until they were dis- 
covered to be flre-rafts, drifting down on the squadron. The 
Water Witch avoided them without difficulty, steering to 
the northeast, up the stream, while the rafts, left to the 
wind and current, drifted to the western shore, doing no 
injury. The rest of the squadron was already out of their 
reach, on its way to the bar. 

Winslow now remained alone in the Water Witch, near 
the Head of the Passes, having interpreted the commanding 
officer's last signal to mean "Act at discretion," and being 
under the conviction that a force was still required at this 
point if the blockade was to be efficiently maintained. The 
6* 1 


rest of the squadron apparently took a different view of the 
state of affairs. It was now daylight and, making a reoon- 
noissanoe, Winslow discovered the smoke of four steamers, 
above a bend in the river, and a bark-rigged propeller higher 
up, having the appearance of a blockade-runner. As the pro- 
peller would have a clear path through Pass-S-Loutre un- 
less the squadron could be brought back, the Water Witch 
steamed at 'full speed down the Southwest Pass untU she 
overtook the retreating blockaders. When she came up 
with them, the Richmond was making a general signal to 
cross the bar. Winslow ranged up alongside and earnestly 
represented the necessity of returning immediately up the 
river, but Pope, deeming the position of the squadron un- 
safe, overruled the suggestion and ordered the Water Witch 
to the assistance of the sailing vessels. This order was car- 
ried out. The Preble was piloted across the bar by Davis, 
the executive of the Water Witch, and the gunboat went her- 
self to assist the Vincennes; but before Winslow could 
reach her, the sloop grounded. A moment later the Eich- 
mond also ran ashore. 

In this position the vessels of the squadron found them- 
selves when Hollins came down the Pass with his flotiUa. 
It was now about eight o'clock. The enemy's attack was not 
maintained with any great spirit, and though the cannonade 
lasted for a couple of hours, no advantage was gained by 
either side. As the Richmond lay with her broadside up 
the river, she could rake the channel effectually; and the 
Confederates, whose force of lightly-armed river-boats was no 
match for the squadron, kept at a respectful distance from 
her heavy battery. Their firing was inaccurate, their shells 
bursting around and beyond the Richmond. On the other 
hand, the Richmond's shot fell short. She succeeded once 
or twice in backing off into deeper water, and drifted down 


■with the current, groimding finally about a quarter of a mile 
below the Vincennes; but the Mttle Water Witch pluckily 
held her position, although she was obliged to keep actively 
moving to leave a clear space for the Kchmond's fire. 

The position of the Vincennes would now have become 
critical had the enemy shown a bold front and approached 
her ; but they kept off, satisfied with a mere demonstration. 
Then came the most singular incident of this singular con- 
flict. The Bichmond made signal to the vessels below the 
bar* to get under way. This was erroneously interpreted on 
board the Vincennes as an order to abandon the vessel. Cap- 
tain Handy, apparently himself in some doubt as to his inter- 
pretation, sent an officer to the Water Witch asMng if such a 
signal had been made, and announcing that he should defend 
his vessel. Winslow replied to the question that it was im- 
possible, and suggested to Handy that he should fight his 
ship. Handy did not adopt the suggestion, however, but 
concluded to obey the supposed order. Having first caused 
a slow-match to be applied to the magazdne, he manned the. 
boats, and sending a part of his crew on board the Water 
Witch, he repaired to the Bichmond with the rest, rrom 
some dramatic fancy, he wrapped a large American ensign 
about his waist, and in this strange guise he appeared over 
the side of the commanding officer's vesseL This was at 
9.30, when the enemy's forces were beginning to draw off 
from the att&ck; and shortly after Captain Handy reached 
the Bichmond they withdrew up the river. 

Captain Pope, after waiting " a reasonable time," as he 
says in his report, for the explosion, and thinking, "from 
the description of the slow-match," that it had gone out, 
ordered Handy back to the Vincennes. The latter there- 
upon divested himself of his colors, and returned to his ves- 
sel. The next day she was got afloat, with the assistance of 


the Soutli Carolina, which was ordered up from Barrataria. 
A new disposition was made of the vessels, and the blockade 
was continued by keeping a ship ofif the mouth of each of 
the Passes. 

On the 16th of September Ship Island had been evacuated 
by the Confederates. A force was landed from the Massa- 
chusetts, and the fort was occupied. The island became an 
important station, and facilitated the blockade of IVEssissippi 
Sound, where the cruisers might intercept the small vessels 
running between New Orleans and Mobile. On the 19th of 
October, the steamer Florida came out, under Commodore 
Hollins, and engaged the Massachusetts off the island. The 
Florida, being a faster vessel, and of less draft, was able to 
choose her distance, and the engagement was carried on at 
long range. A 68-pounder rifle-sheU was exploded in the 
Massachusetts, but it did not seriously injure the vessel, and 
the enemy finally retreated out of reach. Ship Island served 
as the depot of the West Gulf Squadron until the evacuation 
of Pensacola, which then became the headquarters. 

Mobile, the second point of importance in the GuK, pre- 
sented few natural difficulties to the blockaders ; and the 
same peculiarities that made it an easy port to defend made 
it an easy port to blockade. The city lies at the head of a 
bay twenty-four miles long and ten miles wide in its upper 
part, expanding to twenty miles at its southern end. Very 
little, however, of this large sheet of water is accessible for 
vessels of even moderate draught. The upper anchorage has 
only twelve feet of water. The lower anchorage has from 
eighteen to twenty feet; and is five miles north of Mobile 
Point, at the main entrance to the bay. This entrance lies 
between two long, narrow sand-spits, and is approached by a 
channel running north and south. The channel, five miles 



in length, and only half a mile wide at ita narrowest point, 
has at its southern extremity a bar, upon which there is a 
depth of nearly twenty-one f e,et. The northern end was pro- 

i^^v,. MOBILE BAY 






^^^^^^^^ " 



GXTLT oi" M:Exrco 

Entrance to Mobile Bay. 

teoted by two forts, one of them, Fort Morgan, a work* of 
considerable strength. But as the entrance of the channel 
was five miles from the forts, the blockading squadron could 


take a position close to the bar ; and the blockade was re- 
duced to a limited area. At this point, therefore, it could 
be maintained more efifectually and by a smaller force than 
at almost any other place of trade on the coast. 

There were two other entrances to the bay, one to the 
westward, with so little water as to be comparatively unim- 
portant, and the other to the northeast, extending, like the 
Beach Channel at Charleston, close along the shore, and ter- 
minating directly under Fort Morgan, just as the northeast 
channel at Charleston terminated at Fort Moultrie. Though 
it was less than twelve feet deep at low water, and therefore 
does not appear on the map, it could be used, when the 
tide served, by many of the blockade-runners ; and when 
they had once entered, it was next to impossible to cut them 
out. Additional blockading vessels were generally stationed 
at both these side-entrances. 

Early in the war, the force off Mobile consisted sometimes 
of a single vessel, which might be found cruising eight 
or ten miles from the entrance ; but after the first year a 
really eflBcient force was stationed ofif the port, and toward 
the end the vessels lay within two hundred yards of the bar 
buoy, often with a single gunboat posted inside the channel. ' 
Especially after the second escape of the Florida, the officers 
of the squadron were put on their mettle, and during the 
year before its capture. Mobile was a difficult port for block- 
ade-runners to attempt. 

The simplest operations on the blockade, however, were 
liable to a variety of accidents and incidents, and no service 

1 The old theory with reference to the danger of lying off Mobile finds expres- 
sion in the following passage of Blunt's Coast Pilot (ed. 1841) : *' Those off Mo- 
bile should recollect the necessity of getting an offiug as soon as there are appear- 
ances of a gale on shore, either to weather the Balize or, which is better, to take 
in time the Road of Naso, as destruction is inevitable if you come to anchor out- 
side Mobile Bar during the gale." 


demanded a higher degree of preparation and perseverance 
in action. This was illustrated again and again. A case 
occnired early in 1862, which will serve as one instance 
out of many. On the 20th of January, the steamer E. R. 
Ouyler, watching the eastern passage over Mobile bar, dis- 
covered a schooner at anchor, near the shore, several miles 
to the eastward. The Ouyler was commanded by Lieutenant 
Francis Winslow, the same officer who had shown his judg- 
ment and courage in the affair at the Head of the Passes. 
Apparently it was a simple enough matter for the Ouyler, a 
fast and well-armed steamer, to make the schooner an easy 
prize. As the Ouyler approached, however, the blockade- 
runner got under way, and steered for the beach. Here she 
grounded, her crew making for the land. A boat was sent to 
take possession, and the Ouyler was anchored as near the 
shore as she could safely go. 

Meantime, a party of men had collected on the beach, and 
opened a sharp fire of musketry, imder cover of the dunes. 
This was returned from the Ouyler, and with the help of an 
occasional shell, the steamer sUenoed the fire from the shore. 
A hawser was carried out, and an attempt was made to start 
the schooner. The hawser was parted by the strain ; and a 
second attempt met with a similar result, except that this 
time the hawser fouled the Ouyler's propeller. The largest 
hawser in the ship was now made fast to the schooner's fore- 
mast, and the working party was recalled ; but just as they 
got off, their boat swamped. Two other boats at once put off 
to the rescue, and, as they approached, received a warm fire 
from the sand-hills, the enemy having now gathered in con- 
siderable force. As the Ouyler's stem was secured to the 
schooner, and her propeller was stiU clogged, her broadside 
could not be brought to bear, and she could only answer with 
small arms. One of the boats had a howitzer ; but half her 


crew, including the ofBoer in charge, were ahready disabled, 
and the four men who remained could not use the gun. At 
this critical juncture, the Huntsville arrived with two of the 
Potomac's cutters in tow. Master Schley pulled gallantly in 
with the cutters, and the Huntsville opened on the beach ; 
and a series of mishaps which had nearly resulted in disaster 
finally ended in success. 

The most prominent event in the history of the blockade 
of Mobile was the daring passage of the Confederate cruiser 
Florida past the blockading squadron, on two separate occa- 
sions. The first was on the 4th of September, 1862. At this 
time the blockade was maintained by the sloop-of-war 
Oneida, and the gunboats "Winona and Cayuga. The senior 
ofiicer was Commander George H. Preble of the Oneida. 
The Oneida was one of the four sloops built at the beginning 
of the war, and she was armed with two Xl-inch guns, four 
32-pounder3, and three Dahlgren 30-pounders. The frigate 
Susquehanna had been lying off the port, but had gone to 
Pensacola for repairs five days before. The gunboats Pinola, 
Kanawha, and Kennebec were also attached to the blockad- 
ing squadron, and temporarily absent for repairs or coal. On 
the evening of the day before, the Cayuga had been sent to 
Petit Bois and Horn Island, the entrances of Mississippi 
Sound, which had been left unguarded. The boilers of the 
Oneida needed some slight repairs, and on the morning of 
the day ia question, the fire had been hauled under one 
boiler, while a full pressure of steam was kept on the other. 
The repairs were nearly completed soon after noon, and at 
3.45 P.M., the fire was again started, though a working press- 
ure of steam was not obtained for some time, and the speed 
of the vessel was reduced from ten knots to seven. The 
blockading force, therefore, on this critical day, consisted 
only of the Oneida, undergoing repairs, and the Winona. 


On the 7tli of August the Confederate cruiser Florida had 
left Nassau, where she had been lying for three months, and 
had put into Cardenas in Cuba. Intelligence -of this fact 
had been received at Pensaoola, the headquarters of the 
squadron, but no intimation had been sent to the blockading 
officer off Mobile, though several vessels had come from 
Pensaoola in the meantime. The Florida was in a crippled 
state ; her crew was short ; what men she had were most 
of them sick with yeUow fever ; and her battery was unpro- 
vided with the necessary equipments. Her captain, Maffitt, 
found it necessary to make a port where he could obtain a 
crew, and the equipments that he needed ; and he decided 
to attempt Mobile. Knowing that his ship was an exact 
duplicate of the English gun-vessels that were constantly 
cruising on the coast and going in and out of the blockaded 
ports, he adopted the bold course of personating an Eng- 
lishman, and attempting to run the blockade of Mobile in 
broad daylight. 

At 3.35 on the afternoon of the 4th, the squadron oflf the 
port, composed of the Oneida and the Winona, had sighted a 
sail to the southward and westward, and the Winona was or- 
dered in chase. The sail was found to be the United States 
man-of-war schooner Rachel Seaman ; and the two vessels 
were returning towards the Oneida, when at five o'clock an- 
other sail was reported in the southeast. She was presently 
discovered to be a steamer with a barkantine rig, bmning 
bituminous coal, and heading directly for the senior officer's 
vessel. Satisfied that she was an English gun-vessel in- 
specting the blockade, Preble got under way, and went to 
quarters, steering for the stranger's port bow. The latter 
had been carrying a pennant, and she now hoisted the Eng- 
lish ensign. 

The rules adopted on the blockade allowed foreign ships-of- 


war the pri-yilege of entering the blockaded ports ; but this 
was of course never done without first communicating with 
the squadron outside. No vessel, whatever her character or 
nationality, can be permitted to run past a blockading squad- 
ron without this formality. As the Oneida approached the 
supposed Englishman, she put her helm to starboard in order 
not to pass him, and came ajound until she was heading in the 
same direction, stiU a little on his port bow. He kept on at 
full speed, and when at a distance of about one himdred yards 
the Oneida hailed him. Receiving no reply, she fired a shot 
across his bow, from the rifled pivot gun on the forecastle, 
followed quickly by another, also across his bow, and by a 
third, close to his forefoot. As these produced no impres- 
sion, the order was given to fire into him, and the starboard 
broadside was immediately discharged. This is stated to 
have been done three minutes after the first shot was fired. 
But with a blockade-runner alongside running fourteen knots 
to the.blockader's seven, time is counted by seconds. "When 
the broadside was fired, the stranger's ensign and pennant 
were hauled down. It turned out that orders were given on 
board the Florida, for such she proved to be, to hoist the 
Confederate flag, but the quartermaster lost his fingers in 
the attempt, and the vessel kept on her course without any 
colors. An attempt was also made on board the Florida to 
loosen sail ; but the Oneida's fire drove the men out of the 
rigging. According to Maffitt, "had their guns been de- 
pressed, the career of the Florida would have ended then and 
there.'' The Winona and Bachel Seaman joined in the firing, 
from a greater distance ; but the Florida did not slacken her 
speed, and made no attempt at resistance. An Xl-inch shell 
from the Oneida passed through the coal-bunker on the port 
side, but did not explode. Another exploded close to the 
port gangway. A third entered a few inches above the water- 


line, and passed along tlie berth-deck ; and a shot from the 
Winona went through the cabin and pantry. 

During the firing the Florida had been gaining lapidly on 
her assailants, and she now passed ahead, making directly for 
the entrance of the channel. The Oneida was obliged to 
yaw, to bring her guns to bear, but the chase was continued 
until the Florida had crossed the bar. Then the blockading 
vessels hauled off. An hour later, the Florida was safely an- 
chored under the guns of Fort Morgan. 

After remaining four months at Mobile, repairing and 
completing her equipments, the Florida came out. This 
time no disguise was possible, and when his ship was ready, 
Mafl&tt only waited for a northerly wind and a dark night. 
On the afternoon of January 15, the prospect seemed favor- 
able, and the Florida ran down to MobUe Point. The vio- 
lence of the wind delayed her for a few hours, but at two 
o'clock on the morning of the 16th, she weighed and stood out 
by the main ship-channel across the bar. 

The blockading fleet now consisted of seven vessels. 
Among these was the E. E. Cuyler, a fast steamer that had 
been sent down especially to stop the Florida. When Maffltt 
had come down in the afternoon, he could see the blockading 
vessels aligned off the main entrance, two miles from the 
bar. He was also sighted from the squadron ; and the Cuy- 
ler was ordered to change her position, and be prepared to 
give chase, with the Oneida. Between two and three o'clock 
in the morning, the enemy was reported. He passed be- 
tween the Cuyler and the flagship Susquehanna, at a distance 
of three hundred yards from the former. After a consider- 
able delay, a part of the squadron started in pursuit. It is 
stated by an officer of the Cuyler, in a letter quoted by Maffltt, 
that half an hour was lost in getting under way, owing to 
a regulation of the ship by which the officer of the watch 


was required to report and to wait for the captain to come 
on deck before slipping the cahle. The Oneida, when she 
saw the signal from the flagship, beat to quarters, but 
remained at anchor; and at 3.50, "having seen no vessel 
running out, beat a retreat." ' So says her log. The Cuyler, 
however, saw the Florida distinctly, and chased her during 
the rest of the night and the whole of the day ; but though 
the blockading steamer could make at times fourteen knots, 
her highest speed that day was twelve and a half. At night 
the Florida changed her course and ran off to Cuba, where 
she was burning prizes the next day, while the Ouyler was 
looking for her in the Yucatan channeL 

On the day after the Florida ran out, the Oneida was sent 
to Key West with despatoltes for Admiral Bailey, informing 
him of the escape of the Florida. Bailey sent her to the 
coast of Cuba ; but she missed the Confederate cruiser, and 
Wilkes, commanding the Flying Squadron, having fallen in 
with her, constituted her a part of his force, as well as the 
Cuyler, to the no small injury of the blockade ; an act which 
subsequently brought down upon him the displeasure of the 

Galveston, the third point of importance in the Gulf, was, 
Hke Mobile, comparatively easy of blockade, except against 
vessels of the lightest draft. The absence of strong fortifi- 
cations, especially in the early part of the war, enabled the 
blockading vessels to lie near the shore ; and the town was 
exposed to the fire of the squadron, as it found to its cost in 
August, 1861, when a shore battery fired upon one of the 
South Carolina's tenders. Alden was then commanding the 
blockading force, and he brought the South Carolina, which 
drew only twelve feet, within a mile of the shore, and opened 

1 Meaning " beat the retreat." 


on the batteries. One or two of his shells fell in the town, 
which led to a protest from the foreign consuls against bom- 
bardment without notice ; but the injury to the town was 
afterwards shown to be accidental. ' 

Occupied as he was with active operations in the Missis- 
sippi, Farragut early turned his attention to the necessities 
of the Gulf blockade. In a letter written home shortly 
after his arrival, he had said : " My blockading shall be done 
inside as much as possible." The special charge of the ves- 
sels in the Gulf was entrusted to Commodore Hemy H. BeU, 
and the steps already taken to convert the blockade of prom- 
inent points into an occupation were continued, especially to 
the westward of the Mississippi, on the coast of Louisiana 
and Texas. The principal entrances were Atchafalaya Bay 
and the Calcasieu, on the coast of Xjouisiana, Sabine Pass, at 
the western boundary of the State, and Galveston, Pass Ca- 
vaUo, Aransas, and Corpus Christi, in Texas. Several small 
vessels were sent to operate in connection with a detachment 
of troops in Atchafalaya and its inner waters, under Lieuten- 
ant-Commander Buchanan. These operations continued for 
a long period, though Buchanan was kUled two months after 
his arrival, in an engagement in the T6che. The other 
points were seized by different expeditions, whose operations 
were attended with varying success ; and on the coast of 
Texas, blockade and occupation alternated at the different 
passes with considerable frequency during the rest of the 
war. One great difficulty in holding the occupied points 
was the want of troops. In December, 1862, Farragut writes : 
" It takes too much force to hold the places for me to take 
any more, or my outside fleet will be too much reduced to 
keep up the blockade and keep the river open " — ^two prim- 
ary considerations in the operations of the squadron. 

At all the passes on the coast of Texas and Louisiana there 


had been considerable blockade-running by small craft from 
Havana. To break it up and seize the passes three expedi- 
tions were sent out, one to Corpus Ohristi, one to Calcasieu 
and Sabiue Pass, and one to Galveston. The first of these, 
under Acting-Lieutenant Kittredge, consisted of the bark 
Arthur, the steamer Sachem, the yacht Corypheus, and one 
or two smaller sailing-vessels. There were only about one 
hundred men in all the vessels. Kittredge was confident of 
success, but he could hardly have counted on meeting with 
serious opposition. Corpus Christi lies at the mouth of the 
Nueces Eiver, on a bay which is enclosed by the long nar- 
row islands that make a double coast along nearly the whole 
line of the Texas shore. Entering the lagoon, Kittredge 
proceeded up the bay. On August 16 and 18 attacks were 
made upon the city, and a battery which had been thrown 
up on the levee was sUenced. On the 18th, a landing party 
of thirty men with a howitzer was sent into the town, but 
by this time the enemy had collected a considerable force, 
estimated at five hundred men ; and though their attack 
was repulsed, there was no possibility of holding the place, 
iand the landing party was withdrawn. The vessels, how- 
ever, continued to cruise inside of the Passes of Corpus 
Christi and Aransas. Several vessels were destroyed or cap- 
tured, and the blockade became really efficient. The only 
casualty was the capture of Kittredge and his gig's crew, 
when making an incautious reconnoissance. 

The second expedition, under Acting-Master Crocker, set 
out in September for the Sabine Eiver. The importance of 
this point as an entrance for blockade-runners had been under- 
rated, and no adequate blockade had been established. A 
railroad crossed the river at a point not very far above Sabine 
City, and the town was actively occupied in the exportation 
of cotton and the reception of large quantities of munitions 


of war. ' The expedition, consisting of the steamer Kensing- 
ton and the schooner Eaohel Seaman, found the mortar- 
schooner Henry Janes lying off the entrance. The Janes 
constituted the whole blockading force, and she had been 
there only a few days. Crocker was an energetic officer, 
and at once set about active operations. The vessels as- 
ceiided the river and attacked the fort protecting Sabine 
City. The fort was soon evacuated and the city surrendered. 
Crocker then made a reconnoissance at the two entrances to 
the eastward, Mermenteau and Calcasieu, and on his return 
captured a blockade-running schooner, the Velocity, which 
he armed and manned as a cruiser. Going once more to Cal- 
casieu, he pulled up the river eighty miles in boats, and cap- 
tured the steamer Dan, which he also fitted out for service, 
putting on board a rifled 20-pounder and a howitzer. This 
new acquisition was taken around to Sabine, and a few days 
later Crocker moved her up the river, and destroyed the rail- 
road bridge, although the enemy were posted there in force. 
On his return, he found that the pickets from a camp of the en- 
emy's cavalry, five miles back of Sabine Qity, had given some 
annoyance. Landing with a party of fifty men and a howitzer, 
Crocker marched to the place, drove off the enemy, burned 
their stables, and broke up their encampment. After these 
gallant and successful operations, to which were added the 
capture of several blockade-runners, Crocker returned in the 
Kensington to Pensacola, leaving the Baohel Seaman, and 
the prize-vessels Dan and Velocity to keep up a real block- 
ade at Sabine Pass. 

The expedition to Galveston was under the command of 
Commander W. B. Eenshaw, and consisted of the ferry-boat 
Westfield, Eenshaw's vessel, another ferry-boat, the Clifton, 
imder Lieutenant-Commander Law, the side-wheel steamer 
Harriet Lane, Commander Wainwright, and the gunboat 


Owasco, Lieutenant-Oommander Wilson. The squadron, 
though, small, was a formidable one to send against Galves 
ton, which was imperfectly protected. All the vessels carriec 
for their size heavy batteries.' 

No fighting took place, however. Several days were speni 
in negotiations, and a truce was granted by Kenshaw, undei 
a verbal stipulation that the force on shore should not be 
increased. The Confederates took advantage of this some- 
what loose arrangement to cany off the guns from the fortifica- 
tions — a proceeding against which Kenshaw remonstrated 
unsuccessfully. At the end of the truce, the city was surren- 
dered, and the fleet thenceforth occupied a secure positioi 
inside the bay. 

Captain Eenshaw requested that a military force should 
be sent to hold Galveston, and reported that two or three 
hundred men, with half a dozen pieces of artillery, could 
easily defend themselves on Fort Point or Pelican Island. 
An expedition was accordingly fitted out, which was to land 
at Galveston, and make that point the base of military oper- 
ations. The first detachment of troops consisted of three 
companies of a Massachusetts regiment, under Colonel Bur- 
rill, numbering two hundred and sixty men, but withou< 
any artillery. This force was clearly inadequate to hold the 
place ; but ■with such an efficient squadron, it seemed un- 
likely that the enemy would be able to accomplish any great 
results by an attack, particularly as they had no vessels 
specially adapted for hostilities in those waters. This ab- 

* The general statement ^ves RO imperfect an idea of»the powerful armament o: 
Eenshaw's squadron, and especially of the ferry-boatSj that it may be worth whil( 
to mention the guns in detail. They were as follows : Weetfleld — One 100 
pounder rifle, four Vlll-inch shell guns (56 cwt.), one IX-inch. Clifton — tw( 
IX-inch, fom- heavy SS-pounders (57 cwt.j, one 30-pounder. Harriet Laue- 
three IX-inch, two 24-pound howitzers. Owasco— one Xl-inch, one 30-pounde 
Parrott, one 24-pound howitzer. 



sence of an enemy in force seems to have given Eenshaw 
a false sense of security, and he neglected to destroy the 
railroad bridge connecting Galveston vpith the mainland — 
a fatal omission. Whatever may be the disadvantages under 
which an enemy labors, there is always danger to be appre- 
hended for a small squadron lying in his waters ; and noth- 
ing can justify the want of vigilance or of preparation. 

Galveston Harbor and Entrance. 

By the end of November Farragut held nearly all the prin- 
cipal points in the West Gulf except Mobile. About this 
time, he writes : " We shall spoil unless we have a fight oc- 
casionally. Blockading is hard service, and difficult to carry 
out with perfect success, as has been effectually shown at 
Charleston, where they run to Nassau regularly once a week. 
We have done a little better than that ; we take them now 
I.— 7 


and then. I don't know how many escape, but we certainly 
make a good many prizes." Farragut was not qiaite aconrate 
in his comparison, as the number of prizes reported for 
Charleston in 1862 considerably exceeded that at Mobile. 
In December he says again of the blockade at the latter 
place : ' ' We have taken or destroyed all the steamers that 
run from Havana and Nassau except the Cuba and Alice, and 
I hope to catch those in the course of time." 

But Farragut's hope of irhproving the efficiency of the Gulf 
blockade was destined to be rudely shattered. It was only a 
few days after he wrote the letter just quoted that the aspect 
of affairs on the coast of Texas was suddenly changed by the 
defeat of the squadron at Galveston, and the consequent ces- 
sation of the blockade at that point, 

On the last day of December, intimations were received 
by both commanders at Galveston, ashore and afloat, that an 
attack would be made that night. The affair was therefore 
no surprise ; in fact, the presumption is that it was expected. 
Moreover, there was a bright moonlighli on the night chosen 
for the attack; and the steamers of the approaching force 
were seen in the bay above, both by the Clifton and the 
Westfleld. This was about half-past one on the morning of 
the 1st of January. 

At this time the troops were occupying a wliarf in the 
town, in order that they might have the fleet as a base. 
The small steamer Sachem, which had been a part of Kit- 
tredge's force at Corpus Ohristi, had come in from Aransas 
two days before, in a broken-down condition. The schooner- 
yacht Corypheus had come with her as escort, and the two 
vessels were lying opposite the wharf. The Harriet Lane 
was stationed higher up the channel, to the westward, and 
therefore nearer the enemy. The Westfleld lay three or four 
tailes off, in Bolivar channel, a body of water to the north- 


ward of the town, only accessible from the harbor of Glalves- 
ton by a roundabout passage to the eastward. With the 
Westfleld were the schooner Velocity, which Crocker had 
captured at Sabine Pass, and some transports and coal-barks. 
The Clifton and Owasco were about midway between the two 
groups of vessels. 

Though the enemy first made their appearance at half-past 
one, it was three o'clock before the attack began in the town, 
and only at daylight that the Confederate steamers reached 
the Harriet Lane, the nearest of the blockading force. The 
latter was at the time under way, and anticipated the attack, 
herself taking the offensive. Her opponents were two river-, 
steamers, the Bayou City and the Neptune, the first armed 
with a rifled 68-pounder, the second with two small brass 
pieces. Each carried from 150 to 200 men, and both were 
barricaded with cotton bales, twenty or more feet above the 

As the two steamers came down, the Harriet Lane ad- 
vanced to meet them, firing her bow gun. The Bayou City 
replied, but her gun burst at the third fire. The Harriet 
Lane then ran into her, carried away her wheel-guard, and, 
passing, gave her a broadside, which did her little damage. 
The Neptune then rammed the Harriet Lane, but she was 
herself so much injured by the coUision that she backed off 
out of action, and soon after sank on the flats in eight feet of 
water. The Bayou City rammed the Lane in her turn, and 
her bow catching under the guard-rail of the other vessel, 
she was held fast. A sharp fire of musketry was now ex- 
changed between the two vessels, which caused no great 
mortality on either side, though it inflicted an irreparable 
loss on the Federal steamer by wounding the captain and 
first lieutenant, Wainwright and Lea, both excellent oflicers. 
The fire drove the Harriet Lane's crew from their guns, and 


the enemy boarded, and, after a short struggle, carried the 
vessel. Wainwright was Mlled at the head of his men, de- 
fending his ship gallantly to the last, and fell after having 
received seven wounds. Lea had already been mortally 
wounded before the enemy boarded. 

Aiter Wainwiight fell, no defence was attempted. The 
surviving senior officer, an acting-master, almost immediately 
surrendered, though less than a dozen men were seriously 
hurt out of his crew of 112. Upon this proceeding Farragut 
makes the following brief comment : "It is difficult to con- 
ceive of a more pusillanimous surrender of a vessel to an 
enemy already in our power." 

Meantime the other vessels were variously occupied. The 
Sachem and Oorypheus, lying near the wharf held by the 
troops, supplied in some measure the want of artillery ; and 
the battle on shore, which had begun about three o'clock, 
was kept up until daylight, the Confederates gradually com- 
ing closer to our lines. The Owasco, at the beginning of 
the engagement in the city, had moved up to a position 
between the Sachem and Oorypheus, and united with them 
in the support of the troops. When daylight showed the 
Harriet Lane engaged with two of the enemy's vessels, the 
Owasco moved up to assist her, occasionally touching the 
ground, as she steamed up the channel, which was two hun- 
dred yards wide at this point. After proceeding a short dis- 
tance, she wab driven back by the small-arm fire of the 
Bayou City ; and when the howitzers of the Lane opened on 
her, she backed down below the Sachem and Corypheus, 
and took up her berth opposite the town. 

It remains to account for the two other steamers, the West- 
field and the Clifton, which, despite the fact that they were 
ferry-boats, were well-fitted to act with effect in such an en- 
counter as this. The Westfleld got Tinder way at the iirst 


sight of tlie enemy's steamers, but had no sooner begun to 
move than she went fast aground. It was high water at the 
time, and Kenshaw signalled for assistance. In response to 
the signal, Lieutenant-Commander Law took the Clifton 
around to Bolivar channel, and made an effort to get the 
Westfleld afloat. In the midst of this operation, the attack 
began in the town, and Eenshaw sent the CHfton back to 
support the other vessels. 

The moon had now gone down, and in the darkness Law 
made his way back slowly, shelling the Confederate batteries 
as he passed Fort Point, the eastern end of Galveston Island. 
On his arrival opposite the town, he came to anchor. Ac- 
cording to the report of the Court of Inquiry, the Clifton 
"did not proceed up to the rescue of the Harriet Lane, 
owing to the failure of the Owasco, the intricacy of the channel, 
and the apprehension of killing the crew of the, Harriet Lane, 
who were then exposed by the rebels on her upper deck." 

The enemy now sent a flag of truce to demand the surren- 
der of the vessels, at the same time offering the privilege of 
taking one out of the harbor with the crews of all. The 
bearer of the demands announced the capture of the Lane, 
and the death of Wainwright and Lea, and represented that 
two-thirds of her crew were killed and wounded — a misrep- 
resentation in which he was sustained by an ofifioer of the 
Harriet Lane, whom he brought with him. It appears that 
the object of this proceeding was to gain time. Law received 
the message, made a verbal airangement for a truce, in which 
the status quo was to be maintained, and went in a boat to 
the Westfleld, to refer the question to Eenshaw. After a 
long delay, which the Confederates, taking advantage of the 
absence of written stipulations, occupied in bringing down 
the Harriet Lane, moving up their artillery, and making pris- 
oners of the troops. Law returned with Benshaw's refusal. 


The truce being now ended, Law proceeded to carry out 
his instructions, which were to take the vessels out of the 
harbor ; a moTement that was accomplished successfully and 
with celerity. It was Eenshaw's intention to blow up the 
Westfield, which was still hard aground, and to come out ia 
one of the army transports. By some one's carelessness or 
negligence, the explosion took place prematurely, and Een- 
shaw, together with some of his officers, and a few of his crew, 
who had not yet been transferred, were killed. The remain- 
der of the vessels, except the two coal-barks, crossed the bar ; 
and in view of the fact that the remains of the squadron were 
not deemed equal to an engagement with the Harriet Lane, 
they steamed off at once to Southwest Pass, and the block- 
ade of Galveston was raised. 

The blockade did not long remain broken. Immediately 
after the arrival of the Olifton, Admiral Farragut sent Com- 
modore Bell to Galveston with the Brooklyn, the Hatteras, 
and several gunboats, to resume the blockade. They arrived 
off the town on the 8th, so that the interruption lasted only 
seven days. Had they been a day or two later, they would 
probably have found the Alabama lying snugly in the port. 
As it was, she was sighted outside, and the Hatteras was sent 
to overhaul her. The chase resulted in an encounter twenty- 
five miles from Galveston, which lasted thirteen minutes, and 
which ended in the sinking of the Hatteras. The squadron 
cruised all night in search of the Hatteras, and finding the 
wreck in the morning returned to Galveston. 

In consequence of the withdrawal of the squadron from 
Galveston, after the capture of the Lane, a proclamation was 
issued, on the 20th of January, by Magruder, the Confederate 
General commanding in Texas, declaring that the blockade 
had ceased, and invitiag neutrals to resume commercial in- 
tercourse until an actual blockade had been re-established 


" with the usual notice demanded by the law of nations." 
Though the blockade had indisputably been raised, the pro- 
clamation was a little late ia giving the information, and 
Bell replied by a counter-proclamation of the same date, 
giving a general warning that an actual blockade was in ex- 
istence. To another proclamation of Magruder's, announ- 
cing the cessation of the blockade at Velasco, a port forty 
miles to the southward of Galveston, Bell could make no 
reply, as the only vessel assigned to that point was on duty 
off Aransas. 

Shortly after these events, on the 21st, an attack was made 
on the Morning Light and Velocity, two sailing-vessels 
blockading Sabine Pass. The enemy's force consisted of 
two " cotton-clad " steamers. One of the steamers was armed 
with a rifled 68-pounder, the other with two 24-pounders. 
The wind was light and the blockaders were manoeuvred with 
difficulty ; and after some resistance they surrendered. On 
receiving news of the event, Commodore BeU despatched the 
New London and the Cayuga to Sabine. When they arrived 
they found that the Morning Light, which was too deep to 
cross the bar, had been set on fire, and was still burning. 
Bell's promptness took away any foundation for a claim that 
the blockade was raised, and the incident led to the conclu- 
sion that it was impossible to maintain a blockade with small 
sailing-vessels at points where the enemy had a force of 
steamers. Altogether the month of January, 1863, was a 
disastrous period on the Texas blockade. 

During the rest of the year there was little change in the 
state of affairs. An attack on Sabine Pass, now strongly de- 
fended, was made by an expedition under Acting-Lieutenant 
Crocker, who had conducted the successful affair at the 
same point the year before. Upon this occasion Crocker 
had a larger force, and a detachment of troops was ordered 


to co-operate. The expedition, however, -was a failure. The 
Clifton and Sachem were forced by the fire of the fort to 
surrender, and the other vessels, with the transports, were 
withdrawn. Toward the end of the year 1863, and in the 
early part of 1864, a series of combined operations made by 
the army and navy resulted in the occupation of Brazos, 
Aransas, and Pass Cavallo, and the blockade of these ports 
was thenceforth discontinued. In the following summer, it 
became necessary to withdraw the troops for operations else- 
where, and early in September the occupation was again re- 
placed by a blockade, which continued tiU the end of the war. 



During the early part of the war blockade-running was 
carried on from the Oapes of the Chesapeake to the mouth of 
the Eio Grande. It was done by vessels of all sorts and 
sizes. The most successful were the steamers that had be- 
longed to the Southern coasting lines, which found them- 
selves thrown out of employment when the war broke out. 
The rest were small craft, which brought cargoes of more or 
less value from the Bahamas or Cuba, and carried back 
cotton. They answered the purpose sufficiently well, for the 
blockade was not yet rigorous, speed was not an essential, and 
the familiarity of the skippers with the coast enabled them 
to elude the ships-of-war, which were neither numerous nor 
experienced in the business. By April, 1861, the greater 
part of the last year's cotton crop had been disposed of, and 
it was estimated that only about one-seventh remained un- 
' exported when the blockade was established. Cotton is 
gathered in September, and shipments are generally made in 
the winter and spring, and considerable time must conse- 
quently elapse before a new supply could come into the 
market. The proclamation of the blockade caused for a 
time a cessation of regular commerce ; and it was only after a 
considerable interval that a new commerce, with appliances 
specially adapted to the altered state of things, began to de- 
velop. Meantime illicit trade in a small way flourished. 


The profits were considerable, though not comparable to 
those of later years ; and the work required neither skill nor 

This guerilla form of contraband traffic gradually decreased 
after the first year, though there was always a little going 
on from the Bahamas, and on the coast of Texas. By the 
end of the second year it was only to be found in out-of-the- 
way nooks and comers. Little by little the lines were drawn 
more tightly, as Dupont threw vessels into the inlets below 
Charleston, and Goldsborough into the Sounds of North 
OaroUna, while the blockading force grew from a dozen ves- 
sels to three hundred. In all the squadrons the burning 
and cutting out of schooners gave frequent occupation to the 
blockading forces, and the smaller fry were driven from their 
haunts. As these vessels were captured or destroyed one by 
one, there was nothing to replace them, and they gradually 

Meantime the blockade was beginning to tell both upon 
friends — or, to speak with exactness, upon neutrals — and upon 
enemies. The price of cotton decreased at the South, and 
advanced abroad. The supply was short, the crop of 1861 
being about half that of the previous year ; East India cotton 
had not yet come into the market, and the demand was great. 
The price of manufactured goods at the South advanced 
enormously. The time was ripe for judicious action ; and 
the Liverpool cotton-merchant, who in the winter of 1861-62 
had found ruin staring him in the face, suddenly awoke to 
the fact that the ports of the South were an Eldorado of 
wealth to the man who could go in and come out again in 

With cotton at fourpence a pound in Wilmington and two 
shillings a pound in England, the Liverpool merchant was 
not a man to hesitate long. Blockade-running from Europe 


had already been attempted, but the profits had not been 
sufficient to outweigh the risk of capture during the trans- 
atlantic voyage. Now, however, when half-crowns could be 
turned into sovereigns at a single venture, capitalists could 
afford to run almost any risk ; and as it happened, at the 
very time when the profits increased, a plan was devised to 
lessen the danger. Attempts had already been made to 
obviate the risk by a fictitious destination to Nassau or Ber- 
muda ; but the capture and condemnation of one or two 
vessels proved this device to be a failure. The plan of trans- 
shipment was then adopted, and two vessels were employed, 
each specially fitted for its peculiar service, one for the long 
and innocent passage across the ocean, the other for the 
short but illegal run to the blockaded port ; and liability to 
confiscation was thus reduced to a minimum. Capital was 
invested in large amounts in the new industry ; shrewd 
north-countrymen embarked in it, and companies were 
formed to carry on operations on a large scale. Officers of 
rank in the English navy, on leave of absence, offered their 
services, under assumed names, and for large compensation, 
to the owners of vessels in the contraband trade, and met 
with distinguished success in their enterprises. Doubtless 
there were few of these last ; but the incognito which they 
preserved has been respected, and neither their names nor 
their number have been generally made known. 

The Confederate Government did not hesitate to enter 
the field and take a share in the business. Vessels adapted 
to the purpose were bought by agents in England, and 
loaded with munitions of war, and Confederate naval officers 
under orders from the Department were placed in command. 
These vessels cleared under the English flag, taking out a 
sailing captain to comply with the requirements of law. 
Later they were transferred to the Confederate flag, and 


carried on a regular trade between Nassau or Bermuda and 
Wilmington or some other blockaded port. The Govern- 
ment owned three or four such vessels, and was part-owner 
in several others. These last were required to carry out 
cotton on Government account, as part of their cargo, and to 
bring in suppKes. Among the vessels wholly owned by the 
Government was the Giraffe, a Olyde-built iron side-wheel 
steamer, of light draft and considerable speed, which had 
been used as a packet between Glasgow and Belfast. She 
became famous under a new name, as the E. E. Lee ; and 
Tinder the eiHcient command of Captain Wilkinson, who had 
formerly been an officer of our' navy, and who was now in 
the Confederate service, she ran the blockade twenty-one 
times in ten months, between December, 1862, and November, 
1863, and carried abroad six thousand bales of cotton. The 
cotton was landed at Nassau, the Government not appearing 
in the transaction as shipper or owner. Here it was entrusted 
to a mercantile firm, which received a large ' ' commission " 
for assuming ownership, and by this last it was shipped to 
Europe under neutral flags. The firm employed for this 
purpose is reported to have obtained a handsome return from 
its transactions. 

The trade was now reduced to a system, whose working 
showed it to be nearly perfect. The short-voyage blockade- 
runners, destined for the passage between the neutral islands 
and the blockaded coast, began to make their appearance. 
In these every device was brought into use that could in- 
crease their efficiency. Speed, invisibility, and handiness, 
with a cerbain space for stowage, were the essentials; to 
these all other qualities were sacrificed. The typical block- 
ade-runner of 1863-4 was a long, low side-wheel steamer of 
from four to six hundred tons, with a slight frame, sharp 
and narrow, its length perhaps nine times its beam. It had 


feathering paddles, and one or two raking telescopic funnels, 
whioli might be lowered close to the deck. The hull rose 
only a few feet out of the water, and was painted a dull gray 
or lead color, so that it could hardly be seen by daylight at 
two hundred yards. Its spars were two short lower-masts, 
with no yards, and only a small crow's-nest in the foremast. 
The deck forward was constructed in the form known as 
"turtle-back," to enable the vessel to go through a heavy 
sea. Anthracite coal, which made no smoke, was burned in 
the furnaces. This coal came from the United States, and 
when, in consequence of the prohibition upon its exporta- 
tion enforced by the Government, it could not be obtained, 
the semi-bituminous Welsh coal was used as a substitute. 
When running in, all lights were put out, the binnacle and 
fire-room hatch were carefully covered, and steam was blown 
off under water. In the latest vessels of this class speed 
was too much studied at the expense of strength, and some 
of them were disabled before they reached their cruising- 

The start from Nassau or Bermuda was usually made at 
such a time that a moonless night and a high tide could be 
secured for running in. A sharp lookout was kept for 
cruisers on the outside blockade, and the blockade-runner, 
by keeping at a distance, could generally pass them unob- 
served. If by accident or carelessness he came very close, 
he took to his heels, and his speed enabled him to get 
away. He never hove to when ordered ; it was as hard to 
hit him as to overtake him ; a stray shot or two he cared 
nothing for. Even if his pursuer had the advantage of him 
in speed, which was rarely the case, he still kept on, and, 
by protracting the chase for a few hours, he could be sure 
that a squall, or a fog, or the approach of night would en- 
able him to escape. Wilkinson describes a device which 


was commonly employed under these circumstances. In 
running from Wilmington to Nassau, on one occasion, he 
found himself hard pressed by a sloop-of-war. His coal 
was bad, but by using cotton saturated with turpentine, he 
succeeded in keeping ahead. The chase had lasted all day, 
and at sunset the sloop was within four miles, and still 
gaining. The engineer was then directed to make a black 
smoke, and a lookout was stationed with a glass, to give 
notice as soon as he lost sight of the pursuer in the deep- 
ening twilight. The moment the word came, orders were 
given to close the dampers, and the volumes of smoke ceased 
to pour out ; the helm was put hard-a-starboard, changing 
the course eight points ; and the blockade-runner disap- 
peared in the darkness, while the cruiser continued her 
course in pursuit of a shadow. 

Having passed the outside blockade successfully, and ar- 
rived in the neighborhood of his destination, the blockade- 
runner would either lie off at a distance, or run in close to 
the land to the northward or southward of the port, and wait 
for the darkness. Sometimes vessels would remain in this 
way unobserved for a whole day. If they found the place too 
hot and the cruisers too active, one of the inlets at a little 
distance from the port of destination would give the needful 
shelter. Masonboro Inlet, to the north of Wilmington, was 
a favorite resort for this purpose. At night the steamers 
would come out of hiding and make a dash for the entrance. 

The difficulty of running the blockade was increased by 
the absence of lights on the coast. In approaching or skirt- 
ing the shore, the salt-works in operation at various points 
served as a partial substitute. Temporary lights were used at 
some of the ports to aid the blockade-runners. At Charles- 
ton, there was a light on Fort Sumter. At Wilmington, 
in the first year, the Frying Pan light-ship was taken in- 


side the entrauce, and anchored under Fort Oaswell, where 
she was burnt in December, 1861, by two boat's crews from 
the Mount Vernon. At New Inlet, a light was placed on 
"the Mound," a small battery that flanked the works on 
Federal Point. In the earlier blockade, the lights of the 
squadron served as a guide to blockade-runners. After the 
general practice was discontinued, the plan was adopted of 
carrying a light on the senior ofiicer's vessel, which was an- 
chored in the centre of the fleet, near the entrance. This 
fact soon became known to the blockade-runners ; indeed, 
there was little about the squadron that was not known and 
immediately disseminated at Nassau, that central-oflce of 
blockade-running intelligence. Thenceforth it served as a 
useful guide in making the channel. After a time the block- 
ading officer discovered his error, and turned it to account 
by changing his position every night, thereby confusing 
many calculations. 

The run past the inshore squadron was always a critical 
moment, though by no means so dangerous as it looked. It 
was no easy matter on a dark night to hit, much less to stop, 
a small and obscure vessel, going at the rate of fifteen knots, 
whose only object was to pass by. But the service neverthe- 
less called into action all the faculties of the blockade- 
runner. It required a cool head, strong nerve, and ready 
resource. It was a combat of sldll and pluck against force 
and vigilance. The excitement of fighting was wanting, as 
the blockade-runner must make no resistance ; nor, as a rule, 
was he prepared to make any. But the chances, both out- 
side and inshore, were all in his favor. He had only to 
make a port and run in, and he could choose time, and 
weather, and circumstances. He could even choose his 
destination. He always had steam up when it was wanted. 
He knew the critical moment, and was prepared for it ; and 


his moments of action were followed by intervals of repose 
and relaxation. The blockader on the other hand, was in 
every way at a disadvantage. He had no objective point 
except the blockade-runner, and he never knew when the 
blockade-runner was coming. He could choose nothing, 
but must take the circumstances as they happened to come ; 
and they were pretty sure to be unfavorable. He was com- 
pelled to remain in that worst of all situations, incessant 
watchfulness combined with prolonged inaction. There 
would be days and nights of anxious waiting, with expecta- 
tion strained to the tensest point, for an emergency which 
lasted only as many minutes, and which came when it was 
least expected. There was no telliag when or where the 
blow would need to be struck ; and a sohtary moment of 
napping might be fatal, in spite of months of ceaseless vigil- 

At New Inlet, which was a favorite entrance, the blockade- 
runners would frequently get in by hugging the shore, 
slipping by the endmost vessel of the blockading line. 
Even on a clear night a properly prepared craft was invisible , 
against the land, and the roar of the surf drowned the noise 
of her screw or paddles. Having a good pilot and little 
depth, she could generally run well inside of the blockaders. 
After passing the line, she would show a light on her inshore 
side ; this was answered from the beach by a dim light, 
followed by another, above and beyond the first. These 
were the range-lights for the channel. By getting them in 
Une, the blockade-runner could ascertain her position, and in 
a few moments, she would be under the guns of the fort. 
When the practice of blockade-running was reduced to a 
system, a signal-service was organized on shore, and signal 
officers and pilots were regularly detailed for each vessel. 
After the fall of Fort Fisher, and before the fact was known. 


tte duties of the signal-service were assumed by the oiJBcers 
of the Monticello, under the direction of Gushing ; and two 
well known blockade-runners, the Stag and the Charlotte, 
were helped in by range-lights from the shore, only to find 
themselves prizes when they were comfortably anchored in 
the river. 

Vessels passed so often between the squadron and the shore 
that special measures were taken to stop it. The endmost 
vessel was so placed as to leave a narrow passage. When the 
blockade-runner had passed, the blockader moved nearer 
and closed the entrance, at the same time sending up signal 
rockets. Two or three of her consorts were in waiting and 
closed up, and the adventurous vessel suddenly found her- 
self hemmed in on all sides, and without a chance of escape. 

Whenever a blockade-runner was hard pressed in a chase, 
it was a common practice for the captain to run her ashore, 
trusting to favorable circumstances to save a fragment of his 
cargo. Communicating with the forces in the neighborhood, 
he would obtain the co-operation of a detachment of infantry, 
often accompanied by one or two pieces of artillery, which 
would harass the parties sent from the blockading vessels to 
get the steamer off. At Wilmington, lunettes were thrown up 
along the shore, large enough for two guns, and a fleld-bat- 
tery of Whitworth 12-pounders was kept in constant readiness 
to run down and occupy them. Sometimes the blockaders 
were able to command the land approaches, and so prevent 
the people on shore from doing mischief ; but at other times 
the latter had it all their own way. It was no easy matter in 
any case to float off a steamer which had been beached in- 
tentionally under a full head of steam, especially if the tide 
was running ebb ; and the fire of one or two rifled guns 
placed close by on the beach made the operation hazardous. 
The only course left was to bum the wreck ; and even then, if 


the work was not done thoroughly, the chances were that the 
fire would be extinguished, and the damaged vessel ulti- 
mately recovered. In July, 1863, the Kate, one of the new 
English-built craft, after running to Charleston and being 
chased off, put into Wilmington. She attempted to pass the 
fleet off New Inlet, but choosing her time badly, she was 
sighted about five in the morning, and, after a chase, she 
was run ashore on Smith's Island, and abandoned. The 
troops came down, but did nothing. A party was sent in 
from the Penobscot to get her off; but this failing, she was 
set on lire, and the officer in charge of the boat-party re- 
ported that he had disabled her so effectually that she would 
be of no further use. Three weeks later, however, she was 
floated off by the Confederates, and anchored under the bat^ 
teries ; a position from which she was cut out with some 

The Hebe, a Bermuda steamer, was run ashore a fortnight 
later on Federal Point, imder circumstances generally simi- 
lar, except that it was blowing a gale from the northeast. A 
boat sent in from the Niphon was swamped, but the crew 
succeeded in getting on board the Hebe. A second boat 
was driven ashore, and the crew were taken prisoners by the 
cavalry on the beach. The Hebe was covered by a two-gun 
Whitworth battery and fifty or more riflemen. Other boats 
put off, and rescued a few of the men on board the steamer. 
The last boat capsized ; and the remaining men of the first 
party fired the ship, and making for the shore were captured. 
This time the vessel was destroyed. A few days later the 
large vessels of the squadron came in, silenced the battery, 
and finally sent in a landing-party, and brought off the guns. 

One night in October of the same year the Venus, one of 
the finest and fastest of the vessels in the Nassau- Wilmington 
trade, made the blockading fleet off New Inlet. She waA 


first discovered by the Nansemond, commanded by Lieuten- 
ant Lamson. Lamson was always on the alert, and bis work 
,was always done qtiickly and tborougbly. After a short 
chase, he overhaxiled the Venus. When abeam he opened Are 
on her. Four well-directed shells played havoc with the 
blockade-runner. The first struck her foremast ; the second 
exploded in the cabin ; the third passed through forward, 
killing a man on the way ; and the fourth, striking near the 
water-Une, knocked in an iron plate, causing the vessel to 
make water fast. This was good practice, at night, with 
both vessels making nearly fourteen knots. The blockade- 
runner headed straight for the shore, and she was no sooner 
hard and fast, than the boarders had taken possession, and 
captured . he* ofiScers and crew. As it was impossible to 
move her, she was riddled with shells and finally burnt 
where she lay. 

One of the prettiest captures made off Wilmington was 
that of the Ella and Anna, by Acting Master J. B. Breck of 
the Niphon, in the foUowing November. Breck was an offi- 
cer of pluck and resource, and he won a name for himself by 
his dashing successes on the WUmington blockade. About 
five o'clock on the morning of the 9th of November, as he was 
returning along the shore from a chase near Masonboro Inlet, 
he discovered a side-wheel steamer to the northward, stealing 
along toward the entrance of the river. Outside of her lay a 
blockader, which opened on her with grape, and the block- 
ade-runner, finding herself intercepted, steered directly for 
the Niphon with the intention of running her down. Breck 
saw the intention, and fixed on his plan in an instant. Head- 
ing for the steamer, he formed his boarders on the bow. The 
blockade-runner dashed on at full speed under a shower of 
canister, and struck him a blow that carried away his bowsprit 
and stem. In a moment, his boarders were over the rail and 


on the deck of tlie blookade-ruimer ; and a few seconds made 
her a prize. She had on board three hundred cases of Aus- 
trian rifles and a quantity of saltpetre ; and the prize-sal% 
netted $180,000. The Ella and Anna was taken into the ser- 
vice, and in the next year, under her new name of the Mal- 
vern, became famous as the flagship of Admiral Porter. 

The warfare on both sides was accompanied by a variety of 
ruses and stratagems, more or less ingenious and successful, 
but usually turning out to the benefit of the blockade-runner. 
When a steamer was sighted, the blockading vessel that made 
the discovery fired signals in the direction she had taken. 
This was at best an uncertain guide, as the blockaders could 
only make a rough guess at the stranger's position. The 
practice was no sooner understood than the enterprising cap- 
tains at Nassau sent for a supply of signal rockets, and there- 
after they were carried as a part of the regular equipment. 
Eunning through the fleet, and finding himself discovered, 
the captain immediately fired his rockets in a direction at 
right angles to his course ; and the blockaders were sent on 
a wild-goose chase into the darkness. If there were many 
of them, they were apt to get in each other's way ; and more 
than once serious damage was done by a friendly vessel. 
The Howquah, ofi' Wilmington, on a dark night, in Septem- 
ber, 1864, had nearly succeeded in making a prize, when the 
concentrated fire of the batteries, the blockading squadron, 
and, according to the belief of the commander, of the 
blockade-runner, proved to be too much for him, and caused 
him to draw off. 

One of the blockade-running captains relates that, on a 
certain night, when he found himself alongside a vessel of 
the fleet and under her guns, he was told to heave to. Ac- 
cordingly, steam was shut ofi', and he replied that he had 
stopped. There was a moderate sea, and the boat from the 


cruiser was delayed. As it reacted the side of the blockade- 
runner, the captain of the latter gave the order, " Full speed 
ahead," and his vessel shot away toward the channel. A de- 
ception of this kind, whatever may be thought of it abstractly, 
was one that would be likely to recoil on the blockade-run- 
ners. A vessel or two might avoid being sunk by pretending 
to surrender, but a blockader would hardly be caught twice 
by such a trick. The next time, instead of hailing before he 
jSred, he would flre before he hailed ; and he would be per- 
fectly justified in so doing. Indeed, it is a question whether 
in a blockade so persistently broken as that of Wilmington, 
the ordinary rules of action for belligerent cruisers should 
not be modified, and vessels found in flagrante delicto, 
whether neutrals or not, be destroyed instead of being cap- 
tured. Certainly, if destruction and not capture had always 
been the object, fewer blockade-runners would have escaped, 
and possibly fewer would have undertaken the business. 
There is always a possibility that a vessel met at sea, how- 
ever suspicious the circumstances, may be innocent; but 
when found running through the blockading fleet, her guilt 
is established, and if there is any question about bringing 
her to — and at Wilmington there was always rather more 
than a question — the blockader is not far wrong whose first 
thought is to inflict a vital injury. 

As it was, blockade-running was not an occupation in- 
volving much personal danger, and little apprehension was 
felt about running through the fleet. Calcium lights were 
burned, and shot and shell flew thickly over and around the 
entering vessel, but they did not often hit the mark. At Wil- 
mington it was perhaps not so much the inshore blockade 
that killed the trade as the practice of keeping fast cruisers 
outside. Until near the end of 1864, when the stringency 
of the blockade became extreme, the captures were not 


numerous enougli to take up more tlaan a slight margin of 
the enormous profits that it netted. These profits were 
made both on the outward and the inward voyages, and it is 
hard to say which were the more extraordinary. The inward 
cargoes consisted of all kinds of manufactured goods, and 
especially of "hardware," the innocent name under which 
arms and ammunition were invoiced. The sale of these 
brought in from five hundred tc one thousand per cent, of 
their cost. The return cargo was always cotton, and the 
steam-presses at Wilmington, reducing it to the smallest 
possible bulk, enabled the long, narrow blockade-runners to 
carry six hundred, eight hundred, or even twelve hundred 
bales, of five or six hundred pounds each. Even the upper 
deck was piled up with two or three tiers of bales. As a 
clear profit of £30,000 each way was no uncommon result, it 
is easy to believe that owners could aflJbrd to lose a vessel- 
after two successful trips. It was the current opinion in the 
squadron ofi' Wilmington, in the early part of the last year, 
that two-thirds of the vessels attempting to enter were suc- 
cessful ; and it has been estimated that out of the sixty-six 
blockade-runners making regular trips during the war, forty 
were captured or destroyed, but only after a successful 
career for a shorter or longer period. Gradually, in the 
last few months, too many vessels were caught to make the 
trade profitable ; and it was slowly decUning, though it did 
not cease altogether until the blockade was raised. 

As for the compensation of those who did the work, it may 
be interesting to give the schedule of rates of pay, on board 
a first-class vessel, when the business was at its height. The 
figures are given by "A. Roberts,'' one of the most famous 
of the noms de guerre in the contraband trade of Nassau. 
The rates are for a single trip from Nassau to Wilmington 
and back. Half the amount was given as a bounty at the 


beginning of the voyage, and half at its successful comple- 
tion. The amounts are as follows : 

Captain £1,000 

Chief Officer 250 

Second and Third Officer 150 

Chief Engineer 500 

Crew and firemen (about) 50 

PUot 750 

Besides the money received, officers were able to stow 
away little cargoes of their own, and so to make on each trip 
a private speculation ; and an occasional cotton-bale was 
brought out for a friend, by way of making a handsome pres- 
ent. In fact, the blockade-running captains, after six months 
of employm.ent, could affisrd to retire with a snug compe- 
tency for the rest of their life. 

The merchants who withdrew early from the business ac- 
quired considerable fortunes; but those who kept on until 
the end met with heavy losses. Any speculation that brings 
sudden and excessive profits is likely to be overdone ; and 
large amounts of capital 'were sunk in the last months of the 
war. At the close, the thriving business of Nassau and Ber- 
muda suddenly collapsed, and they reverted to their former 
condition of stagnation-; while the mercantile enterprise of 
Liverpool was directed to other and more legitimate chan- 



The Confederate naval authorities early recognized that 
the most vulnerable point of their enemy, as a maritime 
power, lay in his merchant marine. In 1861 the United 
States still occupied the second place among commercial na- 
tions. Of the total registered tonnage, however, less than 
one-tenth belonged to the seceding States ; and this rapidly 
disappeared. In a warfare against commerce, the Confeder- 
ates could strike heavy blows, without fear of being struck 
in return. Accordingly, it was against commerce that they 
immediately took the offensive ; and they maintained their 
position until the end of the war — after the end, in fact. 
The Federal Government, on the other hand, could not make 
use of commerce-destroyers, because there was no enemy's 
commerce to destroy. It follows that the history of the 
ocean warfare during the conflict falls naturally into a recital 
of the doings of Southern cruisers. 

The policy of systematic operations against the merchant 
fleet of the United States was adopted at the outset. As 
early as April 17, 1861, Davis published his famous proc- 
lamation, announcing his purpose of issuing letters-of- 
marque. At this time, the practice of privateering had been 
somewhat discredited by the general concurrence of Euro- 
pean States in the Declaration of the Congress of Paris. 
But the Southern leaders counted upon a support abroad 


that would not be weakened by the influence of sentimental 
considerations ; and as the United States had not subscribed 
the Declaration, neither party was bound by its articles. 
"When the circular invitation of the Powers was sent to this 
Government in 1856, Secretary Marcy proposed to amend 
the rules by the addition of a new article, exempting private 
property at sea from capture. No action was taken on the 
proposal, and the negotiations were suspended until Presi- 
dent Lincoln's accession to office. About a week after Davis's 
proclamation was issued, the Department of State instructed 
the Minister of the United States at London to reopen ne- 
gotiations, and offered to accede unconditionally to the Dec- 
laration. This proposal seemed to point too strongly to an 
effort to clothe Southern privateering with an illegal charac- 
ter, and the British Government refused to make an agree- 
ment which should be applicable to the existing war. As 
the United States were thus debarred from any present ad- 
vantage to be derived from the adoption of the rule, the 
whole question was dropped. 

A volunteer navy may in some degree supply the place of 
privateers, supposing that plenty of time and an elastic 
organization are at command, with a flourishing merchant 
marine upon which to draw ; but at the South, in 1861, there 
was no merchant marine. Still less was there time or 
organization. In fact, the scheme of a volunteer navy was 
tried by the Confederate Government later in the war, and 
proved a signal failure. Accordingly, the naval administra- 
tion of the Confederacy 'Nyas wise in turning over its work to 
private parties, and thus saving its own energies. The 
ocean was covered with an unsuspecting and unprotected 
commerce, which lay at the mercy of any one whose hostile 
intentions were backed by a single gun. Few and indifferent 
as were the vessels available for privateering, a score of 
I. -8 


prizes had been brought into New Orleans by the end of 
May, six weeks after the issue of the proclamation. 

It was necessary to decide at the outset in what light 
the acts of the Southern privateers should be regarded. 
Though the Confederate Government was recognized by 
the courts as belligerent, and a state of war was held to 
exist, the legal authority of the United States over its sub- 
jects could not come to an end, even while these subjects 
were enemies. According to the strict legal view, neither 
the fact of a civil war, nor its express recognition, involved 
any abrogation of the powers of the Government over its 
subjects in revolt. The Constitution defines treason to be 
the levying of war against the United States and giving aid 
and comfort to the enemies thereof ; and it was competent 
for the State to bring to trial for treason those whose acts 
came within the constitutional definition. But the insurrec- 
tion assumed such large proportions in the beginning, and 
was directed by such complete governmental machinery, that 
every consideration of policy and necessity, as well as of 
humanity and morality, prescribed a course of action under 
which the insurgents should be treated as belligerents, and, 
when captured, as prisoners of war. 

An attempt was made to put those engaged in hostilities at 
sea upon a difierent footing, and to bring them to trial for 
piracy. The pr'oclamation of April 19 gave expression to 
this principle. In it the President said : 

"And I hereby proclaim and declare that if any person 
under the pretended authority of the said States, or under 
any other pretence, shaU molest a vessel of the United 
States, or the persons or cargo on board of her, such person 
will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for 
the prevention and punishment of piracy." 

The policy of the Government, as set forth in the proola- 


mation, was never carried out, because it was found to be im- 
practicable. Certain of tbe crews of the captured privateers 
were tried, and as their acts fell specifloally under the pro- 
visions of the law defining piracy, conviction was in some 
cases obtained ; but the Confederate authorities threatened 
retaliation, and they were in a position to carry out their 
threat. The Government therefore went no further with its 
prosecutions. Nor is it clear, if they had continued, upon 
what ground they could have been justified. The fact that 
the war was a civil war afforded no reason for a distinction 
between combatants at sea and combatants on land. As 
naval warfare is no more criminal than land warfare, those 
captured in the one occupation are as much entitled to be 
treated as prisoners of war as those captured in the other. 
The only explanation of the prosecution of the " Savannah 
pirates," as the reports designate them, is the fact that the 
Government, having taken a definite position in the procla- 
mation of April 19, before the magnitude of the insurrec- 
tion was fully realized, was unwilling to recede until the 
courts had sustained its action. 

During the first year of the war the privateers met with 
moderate success. A considerable- number of small vessels 
were fitted out, old slavers, tugs, fishing-schooners, revenue 
cutters, and small coasters of all descriptions. Many of them 
would lie securely in the inlets on the coast of the Oarohnas, 
and issue forth when they sighted a stray merchantman off 
the coast, returning to cover when they had made their cap- 
ture. Others went to work more boldly, but nearly all had 
a short career. The brig Jeff Davis, a condemned slaver, 
after cruising off the New England coast and making several 
valuable prizes, was wrecked on the coast of Florida. The 
Beauregard, a Charleston schooner, was captured by the 
U. S. bark W. G. Anderson. The schooner Judah was 


burnt at her wharf, at the Pensacola Navy Yard, by a party 
of officers and men from the flagship Colorado. The Savan- 
nah, a Charleston pilot-boat of fifty-four tons, was captured 
when three days out by the brig Perry, one of the block- 
ading force, and was carried into New York, where the trial 
of her crew for piracy led to the threat of retaliation upon 
prisoners in Southern hands. The Petrel, which had for- 
merly been a revenue cutter, was sunk by a shell from the 
frigate St. Lawrence, cruising off Charleston. ' 

In spite of the successes of the sailing-vessels of the navy 
against the early privateers, it took some time to drive off 
or capture all these mosquitoes of ocean warfare. In fact, 
the practice of privateering may be said to have died out 
rather than to have been broken up. The blockade was in- 
directly instrumental in killing it. Its principal object was 
gain, but there was little to be gained when prizes could 
not be sent into port. The occupation of commerce-de- 
stroying pure and simple, however useful and patriotic, is 
not lucrative ; and it was therefore left to the Confederate 
naval officers, who took it as a part of their duties. The 
piivateers hitherto employed in it were soon diverted to the 
more profitable pursuit Of carrying contraband. The work 
which they had abandoned was then taken in hand by the 
Confederate Government, and it was carried on by the navy 
during the rest of tihe war with results that exceeded the 
most sanguine expectations. 

The first, or nearly the first, of the regularly commissioned 
naval vessels, as distinguished from the privateers, was the 
Sumter. Indeed, she was one of the first vessels of any kind 

1 The story has been so often repeated that the St. Lawrence waa disguised as 
a merchantman, and that the Petrel attempted to capture her that, although a 
matter of no special importance, it may be worth while to state that it has no 
foundation in fact. The Petrel endeavored to escape from the St. Lawrence, but 
the latter chased and overhauled her. 


fitted out for hostile purposes at the South, as. Semmes was 
ordered to command her on the 18th of April, 1861. She 
was a screw-steamer of five hundred tons, and was lying* at 
New Orleans, being one of a line of steamers plying regu- 
larly between that port and Havana. The frame of the ves- 
sel was strengthened, a berth-deck was put in, the spar-deck 
cabins were removed, and room was found for a magazine 
and additional coal-bunkers. She was armed with an VIII- 
inch pivot-gun between the fore and main masts, and four 
24-pound howitzers in broadside. 

Senmies had hoped to get his vessel out before the block- 
ade began ; but on the 26th of May the Brooklyn appeared 
off the mouth of the river, where she was soon after joined 
by the Powhatan. Later, the Massachusetts and South 
CairoliQa were added to the squadron, and both the passes 
were closed. 

The Sumter was not ready for sea until the 18th of June. 
At this date, she dropped down the river to the forts, and 
thence to the Head of the Passes, where she remained at 
anchor for nearly a fortnight, watching for an opportunity 
to run out. Here Semmes had every advantage, as he could 
obtain accurate information of the movements of the block- 
ading vessels, while they were ignorant of his presence. The 
Brooklyn had made an effort to ascend the river, but after 
grounding once or twice gave up the attempt. If the vessels 
could have taken a position at the Head of the Passes, they 
might have guarded securely all the outlets, instead of keep- 
ing up an imperfect blockade while lying off the bar at the 
different mouths. Twice a report that one or another of 
the blockaiders had left her station led Senmies to run down 
one of the Passes ; but each time he failed to escape. The 
second time he remained in Pass-S-Loutre, a few miles from 
the bar, unobserved by the Brooklyn ; and after a few hours' 


of waiting, at a moment wlien the latter had left her anchor- 
age in chase of a sail, he made for the mouth of the Pass. 
The Brooklyn, upon sighting him, left her chase, and at- 
tempted to head him off; but he reached the bar and got out 
to sea. The Brooklyn followed, and carrying sail and steam, 
was still gaining on him; but by hauling up a couple of 
points, Semmes brought the wind so far ahead that his 
pursuer took in her sails, and she gradually dropped astern, 
having lost the opportunity of destroying, at a single blow, 
nearly the whole sea-going navy of the Confederacy. 

When only three days out, the Sumter made her first 
prize, the bark Golden Bocket, which was burnt. By the 
6th of July, or in less than a week after running the block- 
ade, she had captured seven other merchantmen. One of 
these was ordered to New Orleans with a prize-crew, and 
was recaptured. The remaining sis were taken in to Oien- 
fuegos, where they were afterward released by the Spanish 
authorities. During the next two months, the Sumter 
cruised in the Caribbean Sea, and along the coast of South 
America. She received friendly treatment in the neutral 
ports which she visited, and was allowed to stay as long as 
she liked. She coaled without hindrance at Curacao, Trini- 
dad, Paramaribo, and Maranham. Only at Puerto Cabello, 
in Venezuela, was she required to depart after forty-eight 
hours. There was no concealment about her character or 
her movements ; but none of the vessels that were sent in 
pursuit of her were able to find her. Among these were the 
Niagara and the Powhatan, from the Gulf Squadron, and 
the Keystone State, Richmond, Iroquois, and San Jacinto. 

After leaving Maranham, Semmes shaped his course iol 
the calm-belt. Here he expected to overhaul many mer- 
chantmen ; but he only captured two, both of which he 
burnt. Neither was an important capture, except that from 


one of them, the Sumter was enabled to replenish her stock 
of fresh provisions. 

After two months of cruising in the Atlantic, the Sumter 
put in to St. Pierre, in the island of Martinique, for coal and 
water. She had been here only five days when the Iroquois 
came in, a very fast sloop-of-war, under Captain Palmer. 
The usual warnings in regard to the neutrality of the port 
were administered by the French authorities, and the Ameri- 
can sloop, after reconnoitering the Sumter closely, came to 
anchor. Finding that the rule forbidding either vessel to 
leave port within twenty-four hours of the other would 
be rigidly enforced, Palmer lost no time in getting under 
way again, to take a position outside. The coast at St. Pierre 
forms an open roadstead, twelve miles wide ; and here Pal- 
mer waited, standing off and on, as near as he could venture 
without laying himself open to the charge of hovering within 
neutral waters. So matters remained for a week. 

On the night of the 23d of November, when the Sumter 
had finished all her preparations, she weighed anchor and 
stood out. Arrangements had been made for signalling her 
movements from one of the American schooners in port ; 
and Semmes, with his quick perception and ready resource, 
took advantage of the fact to throw his enemy off the scent. 
Heading for the southern point of the roads, he held his 
course until he was sure that the Iroquois was following the 
signal lights ; then doubling suddenly, he returned under 
cover of the land, and stopping from time to time, he suc- 
ceeded in giving Palmer the slip. A forttmate rain-squall 
concealed his movements, and in half an hour he was run- 
ning under a full head of steam for the northern end of the 
island, while the Iroquois was chasing furiously to the 
southward. In a little while she discovered the ruse, and 
retraced her course; but the Sumter was not to be seen, 


and Palmer, despairing of finding her, made his way to St. 

The Snmter now cruised to the eastward with moderate 
success. Three prizes were taken and burnt. Bad weather 
came on, and after a time it became necessary to make a 
port and refit. Cadiz was selected, and thither the ship pro- 
ceeded, arriving early in January. The Spaniards showed 
no disposition to have her remain long, and after being 
docked and repaired she sailed for Gibraltar. On the way 
she made two prizes, one of which was burnt, and the other, 
having a neutral cargo, was ransomed. 

The career of the Sumter now came to an end. She had 
no coal, and neither the government nor the private dealers 
would furnish a supply. The vessel herself was hardly in a 
condition to go to sea, and the question of transferring her 
ofiicers to a new ship had been considered, when the Tus- 
carora arrived at Gibraltar. Taking her station at Algeciras, 
on the Spanish coast, the Tuscarora set on foot an effectual 
blockade of the Confederate cruiser. Later the Kearsarge 
and the Ino arrived. In view of serious defects in the 
boilers, and of the other unfavorable circumstances, the 
Sumter was condemned by a survey, and afterward sold. 
She became subsequently a blockade-runner. During her 
cruise she had made seventeen prizes, of which two were 
ransomed, seven were released in Cuban ports by order of 
the Captain-General, and two were recaptured. Apart from 
the delays caused by interrupted voyages, the total injury 
inflicted by the Sumter upon American commerce consisted 
in the burning of six vessels with their cargoes. 

One of the half-dozen vessels which had been sent in 
search of the Sumter was the screw-sloop San Jacinto, com- 
manded by Captain Charles Wilkes. Early in November, 
1861, the San Jacinto was at Havana. The Confederate 


oommiasioners, Mason and Slidell, had shortly before arrived 
at that place, having been brought to Cardenas by the famous 
blockade-runner Theodora. They were to take passage for 
St. Thomas in the British mail-steamer Trent, a vessel be- 
longing to a regular line of steamers between Vera Cruz and 
St. Thomas. Wilkes left Havana on the 2d, having formed 
the intention of intercepting the steamer and seizing the 

The Trent sailed on the 7th, and on the next day she was 
brought to in the Bahama Channel by the San Jacinto. A 
shot was fired across her bow, and as she continued on her 
course it was followed by a shell. When the Trent stopped. 
Lieutenant Fairfax was sent on board, with orders to bring 
off the commissioners and their secretaries. As they refused 
to come except under constraint, another boat was sent to the 
steamer in charge of Lieutenant Greer, with a party of 
marines, and the four passengers were removed. The diffi- 
cult task of carrying out his instructions was performed by 
Lieutenant Fairfax with discretion and forbearance, though 
there was much to have provoked a man of less coolness and 
self-command. The mail-agent on board the Trent, a re- 
tired Commander of the British Navy, was noisy in his de- 
monstrations, and the bearing of the people on board was 
offensive and irritating. According to the joint statement 
made by the commissioners, "many of the passengers be- 
came highly excited, and gave vent to the strongest expres- 
sions of indignation, seeming to indicate a purpose of resist- 
ance on their part ; " and a shght movement was made by 
the guard of marines, which checked the disturbance. The 
affair was conducted with as much good order and propriety 
as such a proceeding would admit. 

The prisoners were taken to Fort Warren, but were subse- 
quently giv-en up to the British Government. The Navy De- 


partment, somewhat prematurely, gave Captain Wilkes an 
emphatic commendation. But the Secretary of State, who 
■was more fully acquainted with the current of opinion in 
England, and who saw the slender barrier' that stood in the 
way of war, avoided comifiitting himself. He wrote to Mr. 
Adams that the act had been performed without instructions 
from the government, and that nothing had been done on 
the subject to anticipate discussion. This immediate dis- 
avowal of the act, made under no demand or pressure, 
enabled the government, when it was called upon to take a 
definite position, to yield becomingly to Earl Eussell's re- 
quest that the prisoners should be released. 

Indeed, there was nothing else to be done. After the first 
burst of satisfaction was over, the more Wilkes's act was 
looked at in the light of sober reason, the less could it be 
justified. It consisted in the removal of four persons from 
a neutral vessel making a voyage between neutral ports, 
because they occupied an ofiieial station under the Confeder- 
ate Government. Such an act has no foundation in interna- 
tional law or usage. The United States, in particular, have 
always maintained the opposite principle, and in 1812 they 
had even gone to war to maintain it, as against the English 
doctrine of the right of impressment. This fact was turned 
to account by Seward in the elaborate review of the case 
presented by him to the British Government, after the latter 
had demanded the release of the commissioners ; and it was 
shown that Great Britain, by condemning the act of Wilkes, 
had for the first time acknowledged the illegality of her an- 
cient practice. 

The question whether the vessel herself was or was not 
liable to capture is one to which international law does not 
make a definite answer. The rule, roughly stated, which 
has the general support of text-writers, deolaj:es that neutral 


vessels employed in transporting persons or despatches of the 
enemy, in connection with the operations of war, are liable 
to capture and condemnation. But the rule is subject to 
many important limitations, and as far as precedent is con- 
cerned, it rests exclusively upon ten cases, decided in the 
English Admiralty Court between 1802 and 1810, in seven of 
which the vessels were condemned. The judgments of Lord 
Stowell in these cases may be said to have created the rule. 
None of them covered exactly the case of the Trent, though 
in one or two there were enough points of resemblance to 
make the question a fair subject of consideration by a prize- 
court. But the question could only be brought before a 
court by capturing the vessel and sending her in for adjudi- 

Wilkes probably had some such idea in his mind, for he 
excused his release of the Trent by referring to his want of 
force, and to the inconvenience that would be caused by the 
detention of the passengers and mails. The first reason was 
under the circumstances hardly applicable. The second, 
commendable as was its motive, could not justify Wilkes in 
allowing the Trent to proceed, if the rule applied to her, and 
if there was a reasonable suspicion of her guilt. If there 
was no such suspicion, his only course, according to every 
principle and precedent, was to release her as he found her, 
with all her cargo and occupants intact. The course which 
he adopted, though it seemed from his point of view to be a 
middle course, and therefore the safest, was really no middle 
course at aU. It was a proceeding of a totally different 
character from either of the others. Its clear illegality was 
due to the principle, of which Wilkes lost sight for the 
moment, that the captor of a neutral vessel has no right to 
concern himself as to the persons who may be therein, 
except so far as their presence may afford a ground for the 


captiire ; and that the only question for Mm to decide is 
■whether the vessel can be charged with any illegal act, and, 
according to the decision, to release her or make her a prize. 
The action taken by the British Government, upon re- 
ceiving news of the event, was summary in the extreme. It 
was no new thing for the naval officers of a belligerent to 
commit an error by which a temporary injury resulted to a 
neutral. The usual course under such circumstances is for 
the injured party to make proper representations, assuming 
that the act was the error of a subordinate ; upon which a 
disavowal is made, and in cases demanding it an apology 
and reparation, and with this the affair ends. All this was 
done in the case of the Trent ; and though the representations 
of the British Government were made in suitable form, and 
some discretion was left with Lord Lyons as to his action, 
yet the two despatches sent by Earl Russell on the 30th of 
November were in reality not the opening of a negotiation, 
but an ultimatum. At the same time, every preparation for 
war was set on foot ; vessels were fitted out, and troops 
were ordered to Canada ; and the whole community, aroused 
by these measures, thought itself already on the verge of 
bostiUties. Mr. Seward's despatch, written on the same day 
with Earl Eussell's ultimatum, and communicated to the latter 
by Mr. Adams, gave ample assurance that the injury, such as 
it was, proceeded from the mistake of an individual. But this 
fact was concealed, after the despatch had been received, 
and the preparations were continued. Of course the moral 
effect of these preparations was to arouse a sympathy for 
the Southern cause throughout the length and breadth of 
England ; and without further comment on the position of 
the EngUsh Government, it is enough to say that had it been 
influenced at this time by unfriendly motives, it could hardly 
have adopted a more unfriendly course of action. 


Long before the cruise of the Sumter was over, the Con- 
federate Government saw that it would be unable to build 
suitable cruising ships-of-war at home, and took steps to 
procure them abroad. Under the rules of international law, 
however, ships-of-war are or ought to be difficult things for 
a. belligerent to obtain from a neutral. They stand on a 
footing by themselves, quite different from that of other 
contraband articles. For supplies of ordinary contraband, 
furnished by its subjects, a neutral State is not responsible ; 
and the subjects who carry on such a trade do it at their own 
risk, and are not interfered with by their government. But 
the construction of a belligerent vessel fitted for purposes of 
war falls outside the class of acts which foreign subjects 
may perform consistently with the neutrality of their gov- 
ernments ; and according to the rule embodied in the Treaty 
of Washington, though not acknowledged by Great Britain 
to have been in force during the Civil War, " a neutral gov- 
ernment is bound to use due diligence to prevent the fitting 
out, arming, or equipping within its jurisdiction of any ves- 
sel which it has reasonable ground to believe is intended to 
cruise or carry on war against a power with which it is at 
peace ; and also to use like diligence to prevent the depart- 
ure from its jurisdiction of any vessel intended to cruise or 
to carry on war as above, such vessel having been specially 
adapted, in whole or in part, within such jurisdiction, to 
warlike use." 

Whether this rule Was a part of international law in 1861 
or not, a rule somewhat approaching it was generally ac- 
cepted, and found expression in the neutrality laws of differ- 
ent States. The British statute then in force imposed a 
penalty for the " equipping, furnishing, fitting out, or arm- 
ing " of a vessel with the intent that the vessel should cruise 
or commit hostilities against a friendly State. The British 


Government held that this act defined the extent of its neu- 
tral obligations ; and the Confederate agents were therefore 
safe if they conld evade its specific provisions. This was 
accomplished successfully by causing ships to be built and 
sent out completely prepared for warlike operations, except 
that they lacked their battery, ammunition, and full crew. 
All that was needed to supply these defects was then sent in 
another vessel to an appointed rendezvous outside of British 
jurisdiction. When the two vessels met, the guns and other 
equipments were transferred, and the cruiser became a Con- 
federate ship-of-war on the spot. 

In order to carry out this plan of operations, it was neces- 
sary for the Confederacy to have its regularly authorized 
agents abroad. Besides the commissioners, whose mission 
was primarily diplomatic, there was, first of all, Captain 
James D. Bullock, an officer of the Confederate Navy, who 
acted for the Navy Department, and whose name appears to 
have been used when it was necessary for the Government to 
be represented by an accredited agent, as in the sale of the 
Georgia. Next in importance came the Liverpool firm of 
Eraser, Trenholm & Co., a branch of the Charleston house 
of John Fraser & Co., the head of which, Trenholm, was 
for some time the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. 
The Liverpool house was the authorized depositary of Con- 
federate funds in Europe, and it conducted, on the other 
side, the blockade-running and other enterprises in which 
the Government at Richmond took a lairge part. There were 
other agents, with greater or less responsibilities at various 
points, North and Huse in England, Barron, whom Semmes 
designates " our Chief of Bureau in Paris," Helm in Cuba, 
Heyliger at Nassau, and Walker at Bermuda. These, or 
most of these, acted directly for the Government, and their 
authority was generally understood and recognized. Be- 


sides these, there 'were others, foreign subjects, sometimes 
merchants in good standing, who were ready to act when a 
third person was required to carry out a fictitious transfer, 
or to perform some part in a transaction which was too deli- 
cate for the principals. Sometimes two or three interme- 
diaries would be employed, each of whom, whatever his 
suspicions might be, could swear that he was ignorant of 
any purpose in contravention of neutrality ; and the differ- 
ent steps in the transaction were adroitly involved and con- 
fused until it became impossible to obtain suflSoient evi- 
dence to secure the conviction of any of the guilty parties, 
on a charge of violation of the neutrality laws. 

The Florida was the first of the commerce-destroyers of 
English origin. She was built at Liverpool in the fall and 
winter of 1861-62, and ingenious measures were taken to 
conceal her ownership and destination. It was given out 
that she was building for the Italian Government, her osten- 
sible owner being a merchant of Liverpool and Palermo. 
The Italian Consul, however, disclaimed all knowledge of her, 
and her pretended destination deceived no one but the Eng- 
lish authorities. Kepresentations made to the Foreign Office 
by the United States Minister were of no effect, and on the 
22d of March, 1862, the Florida cleared from Liverpool 
under the name of the Oreto, and without a cargo, for 
Palermo and Jamaica. About the same time, the guns and 
ammunition for the new cruiser were shipped in the steamer 
Bahama from Hartlepool for Nassau. 

The Oreto or Florida arrived at Nassau on the 28th of 
April. She was consigned to Adderly & Co. This firm 
was the Nassau correspondent of Eraser, Trenholm & Co., of 
Liverpool, who were notoriously the financial agents of the 
Confederate Government in England. Adderly & Co. de- 
livered the vessel to Maffitt, an officer of the Confederate 


Navy, who was subsequently placed in command ; and other 
officers were sent over to join her. She was removed to 
Cochrane's Anchorage, nine miles from Nassau, and began to 
take on board her arms and ammunition ; but this proceed- 
ing was presently discontinued, as it would leave no loop- 
hole for the authorities to ignore the character of the vessel. 
During this time, and later, she was inspected officially by 
English naval officers, who reported that she was "in every 
respect fitted as a man-of-war, on the principle of the de- 
spatch gun- vessels in Her Majesty's service." She was de- 
serted by most of her crew, because they were unwilling to 
engage in hostilities, and a new crew was shipped at Nassau. 
In view of these facts the Oreto was libelled in the Vice- 
Admiralty Court. The trial did not reflect credit upon the 
character of judicial proceedings in the British colonies. 
The vessel was released on the 7th of August, and sailed on 
the same day, under the conunand of Maffitt, f or Green Cay, 
an uninhabited island in the Bahamas. Here she took on 
board her battery, consisting of two Vll-inch rifles, and six 
Vl-inch guns, with carriages and ammunition, and forthwith 
proceeded on her cruise, under the Confederate flag. Maffitt 
had only been able to obtain a crew of twenty-two men ; and 
he had no sooner got to sea than the yellow fever appeared 
on board. To add to his difficulties, he found that in the 
hurry of departure from Nassau, some of the most essential 
equipments of the battery had been left behind, and he was 
without rammers, sponges, sights, locks, elevating-screws, 
and other indispensable articles. With great reluctance, he 
gave up for the time his intended cruise, and steered for the 
coast of Cuba. Avoiding the cruisers, he arrived at Cardenas, 
his effective crew reduced by sickness to only three men. 
Here he was attacked by the fever, but recovered after a 
critical illness. The authorities of Cuba observed their neu- 


tral obligations^ and, though Stribling, the first lieutenant 
of the Florida, succeeded in getting on board a dozen men 
under the name of laborers, nothing could be done to make 
up the deficiencies of the battery. 

After a week in Cardenas, Maffitt, still prostrated by dis- 
ease, took the Florida to Havana. Nothing could be ob- 
tained here, and he resolved, as the only course open to 
him, to make at once for MobUe. Proceeding directly from 
Havana, the Florida sighted Fort Morgan and the blockading 
squadron on the 4th of September. In view of the helpless 
condition of the ship, and the crippled state of her crew and 
battery, Stribling was in favor of a cautious line of action, 
and advised delaying the attempt, at least until night. But 
Mafatt had studied the chances, and he decided that the 
boldest course was the safest. 

How the Florida succeeded in her daring attempt, and 
how, after four months of rest in Mobile, she ran the block- 
ade outward on the night of January 16, 1863, has been 
already told. In the course of ten days after leaving 
Mobile she captured three small vessels, which she burned, 
after the example set by the Sumter. According to Maffitt, 
his " instructions were brief and to the point, leaving much 
to the discretion, but more to the torch." On January 26, 
the Florida put into Nassau, where her appearance as a 
ship-of-war must have caused some confusion to the mer- 
chant who had sworn at the trial in July that he considered 
her as a merchant-vessel, and then had delivered her to 
Maffitt. She was received, however, with an ovation, allowed 
to remain thirty-six hours, when the instructions of the Gov- 
ernment limited the time to twenty-four, and took on board 
coal for three months, though the authorities had been di- 
rected to limit coal-supplies to a quantity sufficient to ena- 
ble the belligerent cruiser to reach the nearest port of her 


own country. A month later she received one hundred tons 
of coal at Barbadoes, in further violation of the instruc- 
tions, which forbade a second supply within three months. 

The important part of the Florida's cruise began with her 
departure from Barbadoes. In the space of five months, 
fourteen prizes were taken and destroyed, in accordance 
with the orders of the Confederate Government. The cruise 
extended from the latitude of New York to the southward 
of Bahia. The neighborhood of the island of Fernando de 
Noronha was found to be a fruitful cruising-ground. One of 
the vessels captured here, the Lapwing, was laden with two 
hundred and sixty tons of coal, and Maffltt, by converting her 
into a tender, was enabled to supply the wants of his ship 
without going into port. 

On the 6th of May, the Florida captured the brig Clar- 
ence, off the coast of Brazil. After putting some light guns 
on board, and a few men, Maffltt entrusted the command of 
the Clarence, now a ship-of-war, to Lieutenant Bead of the 
Florida, an officer whose daring and readiness of resource 
were worthy of Semmes himself. Bead proceeded north- 
ward on a roving cruise, along the coast of the United 
States, and during the month of June Tie made lively work 
of it between the Chesapeake and Portland. By the 10th he 
had captured five vessels. Four of these were destroyed. 
The fifth was the schooner Tacony, and finding her better 
suited to his purpose. Bead burned the Clarence, after trans- 
ferring his guns and crew to the new cruiser. In the next 
fortnight, the Tacony made ten prizes. The last of these, 
the Archer, then became a ship-of-war, and the Tacony 
shared the fate of the Clarence. The Archer's career was 
short. Two days after she was put in commission, Bead ran 
into Portland with a party of his men in boats, and surprised 
and cut out the revenue-cutter Caleb Cushing, which was 


lying in the harbor. Nest morning, however, he was at- 
tacked by steamers which had been hastily manned and sent 
out from Portland. As he could not make a successful re- 
sistance, Bead set the cutter on fire, and put off in his boats 
to the Archer ; but he was pursued and captured, and was 
shortly after a prisoner in Fort Warren. 

After refitting and coaling at Bermuda in July, the Flor- 
ida sailed for Brest. Here she remaiaed nearly six months, 
and was docked and thoroughly repaired. Maffitt was re- 
lieved by Captain Barney, who in turn gave place to Cap- 
tain Morris. The Florida sailed from Brest in February, 
and after cruising for four months, put in again to Bermuda. 
Here she repaired, and took on board eighty tons of coal, by 
permission. Further supplies were taken without permis- 
sion, the authorities not bestirring themselves very vigor- 
ously to enforce the regulations, and accepting Morris's 
statement that Mobile was the first Confederate port he ex- 
pected to visit. He did not visit Mobile, whatever may 
have been Ms expectations, but made a second raid of three 
months on the merchant vessels of the United States, this 
time on their own coast. Crossing the Atlantic, he was at 
Tenerifife early ia August ; and returning, he arrived on the 
5th of October at Bahia. 

The United States sloop-of-war Wachusett, Commander 
Napoleon Collins, was lying at this time in Bahia. The 
Florida came in and anchored near the shore, about half a 
mile from the Waohusett's berth. Immediately after her ar- 
rival, a Brazilian corvette, in apprehension of a disturbance, 
took a position between the two vessels and near the Florida. 

The Florida had received permission to remain in port for 
forty-eight hours, and Collins made up his miad to destroy 
or capture her before the time arrived for her departure. 
Accordingly, before daiybreak on the morning of the 7th, he 


got under way, and crossed the 'bow of the Brazilian. It was 
his iatention to run the Florida down, and sink her at her 
anchor ; but the plan was imperfectly carried out, and the 
Wachusett's bow, striking the enemy on the starboard quar- 
ter, out down her bulwarks and carried away her mizzenmast 
and main-yard, but did not disable her. A few pistol shots 
were fired from the Florida, as the Wachusett backed off, 
which were returned with a volley of small arms, and with a 
discharge from two of the broadside guns. The Florida 
then surrendered. 

At the time of the capture, Captain Morris was on shore, 
together with a number of the officers and crew. Lieuten- 
ant Porter, who had been left in command, came on board 
the Wachusett with sixty-nine officers and men. A hawser 
was carried to the Florida, and she was towed out of the 
harbor. The Wachusett had three men slightly wounded,— 
the only casualties in the engagement. 

In the protest subsequently made by the Brazilian Gov- 
ernment, it was stated that upon the discharge of the 
Wachusett's guns an officer was sent from the Brazilian cor- 
vette to inform Collins that the forts and vessels would open 
fire upon him, if he persisted in attacking the Florida. At 
this time the capture had been aheady made. The officer 
of the deck on board the Wachusett, according to the Bra- 
zilian account, promised to desist. This statement was 
denied by the American officers. The fact that the conver- 
sation, whatever it may have been, was carried on in English 
and Portuguese, would probably be sufficient to account for 
a misunderstanding. The corvette's boat then returned, 
and the Brazilian captain fired a gun, " to ratify his intima- 
tion," as he expressed it ; and all was quiet again. As the 
Wachusett steamed out of the harbor with her prize, the 
Brazilian made & pro forma demonstration, without stopping 


the two vessels, and the latter proceeded by -way of St. 
Thomas to Hampton Koads. Here the Florida was sunk, 
according to the official declaration of the United States 
Government, through " an unforeseen accident," after a col- 
lision with an army transport. 

The capture of the Florida was as gross and deliberate a 
violation of the rights of neutrals as was ever committed in 
any age or country. It is idle to attempt to apologize for it or 
to explain it ; the circumstances were such that the question 
does not admit of discussion. All that can be said is that it 
was the independent act of an offloer, and that it was dis- 
avowed by the Government. In the words of the Secretary 
of State, it " was an unauthorized, unlawful, and indefensi- 
ble exercise of the naval force of the United States within 
a foreign country, in defiance of its established and duly rec- 
ognized Government." That the action of Collins met with 
approval and satisfaction througho^it the country, in spite of 
the official utterances, is not to be wondered at, considering 
that communities in general know little of international law, 
and in a case of this kind do not stop to reason about prin- 
ciples. Moreover, the sHght regard which, during nearly 
four years, neutrals had shown for their obligations toward 
the United States, and the use of their own territories which 
they had permitted to the Southern cruisers, had aroused in 
this country a just indignation and a deep-seated sense of 
wrong and outrage. Collins refers to the previous conduct 
of Brazil by way of justification. He says in his report : "I 
thought it probable the Brazilian authorities would forbear 
to interfere, as they had done at Fernando de Noronha, 
when the rebel steamer Alabama was permitted to take into 
the anchorage three American ships, and to take coal from 
the Cora [Louisa] Hatch within musket-shot of the fort ; 
and afterward, within easy range of their guns, to set on fire 


those unarmed yessels. I regret, however, to state that they 
fired three shotted guns at us, while we were towing the 
Florida out." 

The imputation of blame cast by Oollins's " regret " upon 
the Brazilian authorities was unnecessary. What the Bra- 
zilian vessels should have done was to engage the Waohusett, 
and prevent the capture. What they attempted to do, ap- 
parently, was to pursue such a course of action and inaction 
combined as would enable their Government to avoid a dif- 
ficulty with either belligerent. That they did not propose 
to engage the Wachusett is tolerably clear ; but at the same 
time they did enough to make a diplomatic defence, in case 
the Confederacy should ever be in a position to settle ac- 
counts with their Government. 

The second cruiser built in England for the Confederates 
was the Alabama, whose career began in July, 1862. The 
attention of the Foreign Office had been first called to this 
vessel by a note from Mr. Adams on the 23d of June. The 
evidence then submitted as to her character was confined to 
a statement made by the Consul at Liverpool, of suspicious 
circumstances connected with the vessel. The communica- 
tion was referred to the law ofiicers of the Crown, who gave 
the opinion that, if the allegations were true, the building 
and equipment of the vessel were a ' ' manifest violation of 
the Foreign Enlistment Act, and steps ought to be taken to 
put that act in force and to prevent the vessel from going 
to sea." It was added that the Customs authorities at 
Liverpool should endeavor to ascertain the truth of the 
statements, and that, if sufiioient evidence could be ob- 
tained, proceedings should be taken as early as possible. 
On the 4th of July, the report of the Customs ofiicers 
was transmitted to Mr. Adams, tending to show that there 


was no sufficient evidence that a violation of the Act was 

Other correspondence and opinions followed. On the 
21st, affidavits were delivered to the authorities at Liverpool, 
one of which, made by a seaman who had been shipped on 
board the vessel, declared that Butcher, the captain of the 
Alabama, who engaged him, had stated that she was going 
out to fight for the Confederate States. Other depositions 
to the same effect were received on the 23d and 25th, all of 
which were referred, as they came in, to the law officers. 
The latter rendered the opinion that the evidence of the de- 
ponents, coupled with the character of the vessel, made it 
reasonably clear that she was intended for warlike use against 
the United States ; and recommended that she be seized 
without loss of time. 

Notwithstanding that the urgency of the case was well 
inown to the Government, and notwithstanding also that, of 
the four depositions upon which the law officers chiefly 
based their opinion, one had been received on the 21st of 
July, two others on the 23d, and the fourth on the 25th, the 
report was not presented until the 29th. On that day, how- 
ever, the Alabama left Liverpool, without an armament, and 
ostensibly on a trial trip. She ran down to Point Lynas, on 
the coast of Anglesea, about fifty miles from Liverpool. 
Here she remained for two days, completing her prepara- 
tions. On the morning of the 31st, she got under way and 
stood to the northward up the Irish Sea; and, rounding 
the northern coast of Ireland, "she passed out into the At- 

Among the innumerable side-issues presented by the case 
of the Alabama, the facts given above contain the essential 
point. That the attention of the British Government was 
called to the suspicious character of the vessel on the 23d of 


June; that her adaptation to warlike use was admitted; 
that her readiness for sea was known ; that evidence was 
submitted on the 21st, the 23d, and finally on the 25th of 
July that put her character heyond a doubt; and that in 
spite of all this, she was allowed to sail on the 29th, make 
the real foundation of the case against Great Britain. 

The Alabama arrived at Port Praya, in the Azores, on the 
10th of August. Here she was joined on the 18th by the 
bark Agrippina of London, bringing her battery, ammuni- 
tion, stores, and coal ; and two days later the steamer Ba- 
hama came in from Liverpool, with Semmes and the re- 
mainder of the officers and crew. After a week spent at 
Angra Bay, preparing for the cruise, Semmes left his an- 
chorage on the 24th of August ; and, going a few miles off 
the coast to be outside of neutral jurisdiction, he complied 
with the formalities of putting his ship in commission. 
His crew had been shipped at Point Lynas for a fictitious 
voyage. Of these, eighty were now re-shipped; and the 
remainder were, obtained from the men that had come out 
in the Bahama. Nearly all belonged to Liverpool. Those 
who were unwilling to go returned to England in the other 
vessel ; and the Alabama started on her cruise. 

The first two months were spent in the North Atlantic. 
In this time twenty prizes were taken and burnt. In one or 
two cases, there were at least doubts as to the hostile own- 
ership of the cai'go ; but the prize-court of the Confederacy 
now sat in Semmes's cabin, and all questions of law and fact 
were settled by the captain's decision. The interested neu- 
tral in these cases was Great Britain, and Semmes had 
doubtless satisfied himself beforehand as to how far he 
could safely go. There was no probability that the British 
Government, after making so little effort to prevent his 
departure, would quarrel with him about the destruction of 


a cargo of her subjects' merchandise. That Semmes was 
not mistaken in his conjecture, is proved by the letter in 
reference to this point, addressed by direction of Earl Rus- 
sell to the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. The letter 
says : " British property on board a vessel belonging to one 
of the belligerents must be subject to all the risks and con- 
tingencies of war, so far as the capture of the vessel is con- 
cerned. The owners of any British property, not being 
contraband of war, on board a Federal vessel -captured and 
destroyed by a Confederate vessel of war, may claim in a 
Confederate prize-court compensation for the destruction of 
such property." 

However one may wish to avoid reviving an old grievance, 
which is now happily a grievance of the past, it is impossible 
to avoid comparing the extreme complaisance of the Foreign 
Office toward the acts of. Semmes — acts for which a neutral 
ordinarily demands instant reparation — and its summary 
action in the case of the Trent, when the property of its 
subjects had been in no way injured. In one case it ex- 
cused not only the officer, but the Government under which 
he was acting ; and its suggestion of a remedy for the own- 
ers, in view of the character of prize proceedings in the 
Confederacy, was little less than a mockery. In the other 
case, it accompanied its diplomatic demands with hostile 
preparations, and it encouraged the manufacture of public 
sentiment in favor of war by withholding explanatory de- 
spatches. The inference is unavoidable that the Govern- 
ment deliberately intended to pursue a policy as imf riendly 
as it could possibly be without passing the technical bounds 
of a legal neutrality. 

After cruising as far as the Banks, the Alabama turned her 
head southward. Her coal was nearly exhausted, and ar- 
rangements had been made before starting for receiving a 
I.— 9 


fresh supply, from vessels despatched for the purpose from 
England, which were to meet her at dates and places agreed 
upon. Arriving on the 18th of November at Fort de France, 
in the island of Martinique, Semmes found the Agrippina 
awaiting him ; but he postponed taking in his coal, and as a 
precaution, sent her to another rendezvous. 

Already, in October, the San Jacinto, now commanded by 
Commander BonckendorEf, had been ordered to cruise in the 
West Indies,, in search of the Alabama, and the latter had 
not been at Martinique a day before the sloop came in. She 
carried one Xl-inch and ten IX-inch guns ; so that in arma- 
ment the Alabama was not a match for her. As the Governor 
of Martinique proposed to enforce the "twenty-four hours" 
rule, the San Jacinto did not come to anchor, but went out 
to cruise beyond the marine league, waiting for the enemy 
to leave the hai-bor. She did not have long to wait. On 
the 20th, early ia the evening, the Alabama put out. Signal 
was made from an American brig in the harbor, and Semmes 
was prepared for a critical moment. But the night was 
dark, and the San Jacinto was lying well out from the en- 
trance ; and though she had two boats on the watch, the 
Alabama got out unobserved. As the San Jacinto, how 
ever, was deficient in speed, she would have had some diffi- 
culty in bringing on an engagement, even if she had met 
the enemy. 

After coaling at Blanquilla from the Agrippina, Semmes 
shaped his course for the Mona Passage and thence for the 
Windward Passage. He remained cruising in and near the 
latter for five days. On the 7th of December, the Ariel, one 
of the mail-steamers for which he had been waiting, was 
captured, with a large number of passengers. These he pro- 
posed to land at Kingston, before burning the ship, but the 
prevalence of yellow fever prevented him from carrying out 


the plan, and the steamer was released under heavy ran- 

After making some necessary repairs to her engine, the 
Alabama passed to the southward and westward, cruising in 
the Gulf of Honduras and off the coast of Yucatan. At the 
Areas, a group of small islands in the Bay of Oampechy, she 
met another coal-bark. She remained here at anchor for 
two weeks, coaling and refitting. Thence, on the 5th of Jan- 
uary, 1863, Semmes proceeded to off the coast of Texas, hav- 
ing formed the bold design of intercepting a part of the 
transport fleet, which he supposed would at this time be on 
its way to Galveston. 

The Alabama arrived off Gralveston at noon on the 11th., 
It will be remembered that only ten days before her arrival 
the unfortunate affair had taken place at that port, which 
resulted in the loss of the Harriet Lane and "Westfield, and 
the raising of the blockade by two Texan river-steamers. 
A squadron under Commodore Henry H. Bell, composed of 
the Brooklyn, the Hatteras, and three or four gunboats, had 
been hurriedly collected at New Orleans, to resume the 
blockade, and several of the vessels had arrived off Galves- 
ton shortly before the appearance of the Alabama. The 
latter was sighted from the masthead of the Brooklyn when 
about twelve miles off. She had no steam up, nor were any 
sails set that could be distinguished. The lookout from the 
masthead took her for a bark or a three-masted schooner. 
The Brooklyn's fires were out, and new grate-bars were being 
put in ; otherwise she would have gone in pursuit of the 
stranger. As it was, the commodore signalled the Hatteras 
to chase, and the latter got under way, and steamed in the 
direction indicated. 

In the number of men on board, the two ships were nearly 
equal ; but the Hatteras was far from being a match for the 


Alabama, either in her guns or in her construction. She was 
a mere shell ; an iron side-wheeler, of eleven hundred tons, 
built for carrying passengers on the Delaware — an " excur- 
sion-boat," in short. The armaments of the two vessels 
were as follows : 


„ . , „ Weight of Pro- 

Nomber of Gnus. jeotUeB. 

4 short 32-pounders (27 cwt.) 128 lbs. 

2 rifled 30-pounders 60 lbs. 

1 rifled 20-pounder 20 lbs. 

1 howitzer 12 lbs. 

Total, 8 guns 220 lbs, 


„ ^ . _ Weight of Pro- 

Number of Guns. jectiles. 

6 long 32-pounders (52 cwt.) 192 lbs. 

1 rifled 100-pounder (Blakeley) 100 lbs. 

1 Vni-inoh shell gun 68 lbs. 

Total, 8 guns ' 360 lbs. 

The efficiency of the enemy's battery was quite double 
that of the Hatteras. Added to which, the engines and 
boilers of the Hatteras were exposed to every shot, while the 
Alabama's machinery was protected by coal-bunkers and by 
its position below the water-line. Moreover, the Hatteras 
had no speed ; and the ease with which, toward the end of 
the chase, she overhauled the stranger, led her captain, 
Blake, to suspect that he was being played with, and that 
the intention was to draw him away from the squadron. 

» Blake says in his report that there was also a rifled 24-pouuder on board the 
Alabama, but as Semmes states that this was a 9-pounder, it is omitted in the 



If Ids suspicions were well founded, however, he had noth- 
ing to do but to keep on his course and fight, and he pre- 
pared for a vigorous attack. When he had left the flagship, 
between three and four in the afternoon, the chase was not 
in sight from the Hatteras ; and it was only after he had 
proceeded some distance that he discovered her to be a 
bark-rigged steamer, standing on under topsails away from 
the bar, and occasionally steaming a little. The fact was 
immediately signalled to the flagship, but the signals were 
not observed. 

At dusk the Alabama lay to, being then about twenty 
miles from the squadron, and waited for the Hatteras to 
come up. Blake had resolved to run up as close as possible, 
and if his surmises were correct, to endeavor to board. 
With the Alabama it was his only chance. As he ap- 
proached he hailed, and the other vessel replied, giving as 
her name, " Her Majesty's ship Petrel." This gentle ruse 
lulled Blake's suspicions, and he gave orders to send a boat 
on board the stranger. The Alabama only waited for Blake's 
reply to her hail, to make sure of his nationality ; and on 
receiving it, before the boat had gone more than its length 
from the ship, she discharged a broadside at the Hatteras. 

During the hailing, Semmes had endeavored to get a rak- 
ing position astern of the Hatteras, but the latter had 
thwarted the attempt. After the firing began, both vessels 
moved forward, the Hatteras trying to get on board; but 
the Alabama passed ahead, and Blake, though he came very 
near — being not more than thirty or forty yards oflf at one 
time — failed to accomplish his object. The firing was sharp 
on both sides ; but out of fifty shots estimated by Blake to 
have been fired from his vessel, only seven hit the mark. 
One struck the Alabama under the counter, penetrating as 
far as a timber, and then glanced off; a second struck the 


funnel ; a third passed through both sides ; a fourth en- 
tered the lamp room ; and the others lodged in the bunkers. 
None of the shells exploded. The Alabama's Are, on the 
other hand, was most destructive. In the space of a few 
moments the Hatteras was riddled like a sieve. Shells were 
exploded in the hold and the sick bay, and set them on fire ; 
another shell entered the cylinder; and presently the walk- 
ing beam was shot away. Desperate as his position now 
was, Blake, with the tenacity that was characteristic of him, 
held out a few minutes longer, knowing that he was beaten, 
yet hoping that some chance might damage his enemy. But 
the Alabama, placing herself in an unassailable position on 
his bow, had him completely at her mercy, and continued 
to pour in a galling fire. Whole sheets of iron were torn ofiE 
the side of the Hatteras, allowing a volume of water to en- 
ter; and with his ship on fire in two places, and sinking 
fast, and his engine and pumps disabled, Blake saw that a 
few moments of delay would only result in the sacrifice of 
all on board, and gave up the hopeless struggle. 

The action had lasted thirteen minutes. At its close, the 
crew of the Hatteras were hastily removed, and ten minutes 
after they had left the ship she went down bow foremost. 
The Brooklyn, Sciota, and Cayuga, soon after the beginning 
of the fight, had got under way, and steered in the direction 
of the flashes ; but they cruised all night without meeting 
anything, while the Alabama was steadily holding her course 
to Jamaica. On her way back to Galveston the next morn- 
ing, the Brooklyn discovered the masts of a wreck, standing 
upright, with the tops awash; and only by a mark on the 
hurricane-deck, which was found adrift, was the wreck iden- 
tified as that of the ill-fated Hatteras. 

The Alabama now put in to Port Boyal, Jamaica, where 
she landed her prisoners and repaired damages. The latter 


were not serious, and the ship remained only five days in 
port. After burning two prizes, the crews of which were 
landed at San Domingo, Semmes shaped his course for a 
point on the great highway of South American commerce, near 
the equator. He remained ia this neighborhood two months, 
and captured eight vessels. All of these were destroyed 
except one, the Louisa Hatch, which was loaded with coal. 
Proceeding to the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, 
"with the Hatch in company, he coaled in the harbor from 
his prize. He then took her out and burned her. While 
lying in the port two American ships arrived outside, and the 
Alabama was permitted, without any remonstrance from the 
authorities, to run out and destroy them, returning the same 
day to the harbor. These were the acts to which Collins 
afterward referred, in excusing his capture of the Florida. 
The Brazilian authorities clearly neglected their duty in al- 
lowing this violation of neutrality to pass without remon- 
strance or interference, but as far as the case of the Florida 
is concerned, one wrong cannot be said to justify another. 

Senunes now cruised for two months — ^his usual time for 
remaining in one locality— on the coast of Brazil, stopping 
for a fortnight at Bahia. Ten prizes were added to his list 
in this period. One of these, the bark Conrad, was taken 
into the Confederate service as a tender, armed with two 
captured 12-poiinders, and put in commission at sea under 
the name of the Tuscaloosa. About the first of July the two 
vessels proceeded to the Cape of Good Hope, where they 
arrived on the 29th. The Alabama remained in the neigh- 
borhood of the Cape until the 24th of September, occasion- 
ally putting in at Cape Town or at Simon's Bay. 

A question arose at Cape Town in reference to the charac- 
ter of the Tuscaloosa. As prizes coidd not be brought by 
the cruisers of either belligerent into British ports, the 


Tuscaloosa, if a prize, would be excluded. Semmes claimed 
for her all tlie privileges of a commissioned ship-of-war, and 
the civil authorities were inclined to side TOth him. Sir 
Baldwin Walker, however, the admiral commanding at the 
Cape, took an opposite view, and wrote to the governor that 
"to bring a captured vessel under the denomination of a 
vessel-of-wai, she must be fitted for warlike purposes, and 
not merely have a few men and a few small guns put on 
board her (in fact, nothing but a prize-crew), in order to dis- 
guise her real character as a prize. Now, this vessel has her 
original cargo of wool still on board. . . . Viewing all 
the circumstances of the case, they afford room for the sup- 
position that the vessel is styled a tender, with the object of 
avoiding the prohibition against her entrance as a prize into 
our ports, where, if the captors wished, arrangements could 
be made for the disposal of her valuable cargo." 

The Admiral's straightforward opinion was overruled ; but 
when the case was reported, the Tuscaloosa having then left 
Cape Town, the Home Government instructed the governor 
that the vessel was a prize, and should have been detained. 
These instructions were calculated to afford a cheap satisfac- 
tion to the United States, without injuring the Confederates. 
Unfortunately, the Tuscaloosa disturbed the calculation by 
again coming into port, after a cruise to Brazil, and the 
colonial governor proceeded to detain her, in accordance 
with the instructions of his superiors. This was not at all 
what the Home Government wanted ; and it immediately dis- 
avowed the act, and ordered the restoration of the Tusca-' 
loosa to Lieutenant Low, her commander, on the ground that 
"having been once allowed to enter and leave the port, he 
was fairly entitled to assume that he might do so a second 
time." Comment on these proceedings is hardly necessary. 

Having made arrangements soon after his arrival at Cape 


Town for the sale of the Sea Bride, his latest prize, and of 
the Tuscaloosa's cargo, Semmes retired with his vessels to 
Angra Pequena, a point on the west coast of Africa, out- 
side of civilized jurisdiction, and made the transfers. The 
Tuscaloosa was then ordered to the coast of Brazil. 
After cruising for two weeks olf the Cape, Semmes put 
into Simon's Bay. Here he learned that the Vanderbilt, 
under Commander Baldwin, was cruising in search of him, 
having left the Bay only five days before. Being satisfied 
that his pursuer would not return, he remained in port a 
week, making preparations for his projected cruise to the 
East Indies. During this stay in port, he shipped eleven 
men, to make up for losses by desertion. 

It is not necessary to go into the details of this part of the 
cruise. It lasted six months, and resulted in the capture 
and destruction of seven vessels. First r unn ing due south 
until she struck the fortieth parallel, the Alabama then 
steered to the northward and eastward for the Straits of 
Sunda. She watched the Straits for a time, and next 
crossed the China Sea to Condore, an island off the coast of 
Coohin-China. Betuming by way of Singapore, the Mala- 
bar coast, and Mozambique Channel, she found herself on 
the 20th of March again at the Cape. Thence she sailed on 
the 24th for Europe. 

In consequence of the appearance of the Alabama and 
Florida, the Navy Department, in September, 1862, had set 
about making a systematic effort to put a stop to the depre- 
dations of the commerce-destroyers. A flying squadron was 
fitted out to cruise in the West Indies, and the command 
was given to Captain Charles WUkes. In its instructions, 
dated September 8, 1862, the Department, after recounting 
the fitting-out of the Alabama and Florida, and the fact that 
they were cruising in the West Indies, went on to say; 


"The Department has information tliat other vessels are 
destined for similar purposes in the same quarter, and it is 
therefore essential that prompt and vigorous measures be 
adopted for annihilating these lawless depredators by their 
capture, and, if necessary, destruction. You have been se- 
lected to command a squadron for this purpose. . . ." 

The instructions designated the West Indies and Bahamas 
as the cruising ground, and named the sloops-of-war Wachu- 
sett and Daootah, the double-enders Oimmerone, Sonoma, 
Tioga, and Octorara, and the fast side-wheel steamer San- 
tiago de Cuba as the vessels that were to compose the squad- 
ron. Of these only the Wachusett and the Dacotah were 
fitted to cope singly with the Alabama ; but other suitable 
vessels were subsequently added to .the squadron. 

Wilkes sailed from Hampton Roads in the Wachusett on 
the 24th of September. His cruise lasted about nine 
months. During two months of this time, the Alabama was 
in the same waters ; while the Florida, when she left Mobile, 
ran directly into his cruising ground. But Wilkes was un- 
able to find them ; and the main purpose of his cruise, the 
capture of the commerce-destroyers, was never carried out. 

First and last, Wilkes had sixteen vessels under his com- 
mand. He made some captures of neutral vessels engaged 
in contraband trade, and he worried from time to time the 
English steamers in the West Indies, thereby causing un- 
necessary friction. He incurred the displeasure of the De- 
partment by several unwarranted acts, but particularly by 
the retention of vessels, as a part of his command, which be- 
longed to other squadrons or had been ordered on special 
service. The Oneida and the Ouyler, which had been sent 
in pursuit of the Florida after her escape from Mobile, were 
among the vessels appropriated in this way ; and Farragut 
was led to express himself strongly on the subject, and to 


suggest that if any of Wilkes's ships came into his neigh- 
borhood, he should adopt a similar line of action. But 
the fatal mistake made by Wilkes was in detaining the Van- 
derbilt ; and in consequence of this and other causes of dis- 
satisfaction, he was relieved in June, 1863, by Commodore 

After the Alabama had reached the West Indies, in Novem- 
ber, 1862, it was foreseen that she could not remain long in 
that quarter ; and the Vanderbilt, one of the fastest steamers 
in the navy, was fitted out to cruise under Commander Bald- 
win, with a roving commission, in the direction it was sup- 
posed she would take. The orders of the Department to 
Baldwin, dated January 27, 1863, when the Alabama was on 
her way to her cruising ground near the equator, show with 
what remarkable foresight Semmes's movements were pre- 
dicted, and his probable cruise mapped out. 

The orders read : " You will first visit Havana, where you 
may obtain information to govern your further movements. 
You can then visit any of the islands of the West Indies, or 
any part of the Gulf, at which you think you would be most 
likely to overtake the Alabama, or procure information of 
her. When you are perfectly satisfied that the Alabama has 
left the Gulf or the West Indies, and gone to some other 
locality, you will proceed along the coast of Brazil to Fer- 
nando de Noronha, and Bio de Janeiro, making inquiry at 
such places as you may deem advisable. From Eio continue 
your course to the Cape of Good Hope, thence back to St. 
Helena, Cape de Verde, the Canaries, Madeira, Lisbon, 
Western Islands, and New York. If at any point word is 
obtained of the Alabama or any other rebel craft, you will 
pursue her without regard to these instructions." 

This judicious plan was defeated by Wilkes. On the 28th 
of February, the Vanderbilt, after looking in at Martinique 


and Guadaloupe, fell in with the Wachusett off St. Thomas. 
Wilkes thereupon left the Wachusett, and transferring his 
flag to the Vanderbilt, proceeded to Havana. He was much 
pleased with his new acquisition. On the 20th of March he 
wrote the Department : "I cannot well describe to you the 
efficiency of this steamer, and the excellent condition of dis- 
cipline she is in, and the many advantages she offers for this 
particular cruising. Her speed is much beyond that of any 
other steamer I know of, and her armament is equal to any- 
thing she can possibly have to encounter." ' Nothing would 
induce Wilkes to part with her, until the 13th of June, when, 
in obedience to peremptory orders from the Department, he 
allowed her to go on her cruise. She proceeded directly to 
the coast of Brazil. But it was now too late : the bird had 
flown. The Alabama had been at Fernando de Noronha on 
the 10th of April, and at Bahia on the 11th of May ; and by 
the 1st of July she had left the South American coast alto- 

Touching at the Brazilian ports, Baldwin found himself 
everywhere upon the track of the enemy, but a month be- 
hind her. He followed her to the Cape of Good Hope, stop- 
ping on the way at St. Helena. At the Cape Semmes eluded 
him successfully ; and the cruise of the Vanderbilt, from 
which so much had been expected, produced no substantial 

At the very time that the Alabama left the Cape and dis- 
appeared in the Indian Ocean, the United States sloop-of- 
war Wyoming was cruising in the neighborhood of the Straits 
of Sunda, to protect the commerce passing over the great 
highway to the China Sea. Two days before the Alabama 
arrived in the Straits the Wyoming was lying at Batavia, 

' The Vanderbilt carried two lUO-pounder riaes and twelve IX-inoh gnna. 


one hundred miles to the eastward. When the. Wyoming 
put to sea, Semmes doubled on her, and himself ran down 
into the Java Sea north of Batavia. The Wyoming returned 
to Batavia, and Semmes made his way to the China Sea. 
During the first week in December, the sloop was at Singa- 
pore and Johore, while Semmes was refitting at Oondore, to 
the northward. Late in Jhe same month, Semmes, on his 
way home, put in to Singapore, and remained there four 
days. But by this time^ the Wyoming was off on a false 
chase to Manila, twelve hundred miles away to the north-, 
east, and the opportunity of meeting the Alabama was gone 

The Alabama arrived at Cherbourg from the Cape of Good 
Hope on the 11th of June. Here Semmes proposed to have 
her docked and thoroughly repaired; but permission was 
delayed, and the vessel was still lying in the harbor when, 
on the 14th, the sloop-of-war Kearsarge, commanded by Cap- 
tain John A. Winslow, steamed into Cherbourg. The Kear- 
sarge was lying at Flushing when the news reached her of 
the Alabama's arrival ; and she immediately proceeded to 
Cherbourg, in the hope of an engagement. After send- 
ing a boat ashore, she steamed out of the harbor without 
anchoring; and, taking her station outside, maintained a 
close watch for the enemy, in case he should attempt to 

But Semmes had no intention of running away. After 
warring so long on unarmed merchant-ships, he could not 
afford to decline the battle that was so pointedly offered 
him by a vessel with which he was nearly matched. His 
English friends, who had stood by him loyally hitherto, 
though he gave them much to carry, would have been com- 
pelled to disown him if he had shirked the encounter. He 
met the occasion squarely, and wrote a letter to a resident 


of Cherbourg, by whicli the United States Consul was defi- 
nitely informed of his intention to engage the Kearsarge. 

For four days the Alabama was occupied with prepara- 
tions for battle ; and between nine and ten o'clock on the ' 
morning of the 19t]i, she came out of the harbor. The 
weather was iine, with a slight haze. It was Sunday, 
Semmes's "lucky day;" but for once his luck had deserted 
him. Perhaps he had some apprehensions of this kind, as he 
sent ashore all his valuables, including his captured chro- 
nometers, and his collection of ransom-bills, which were to be 
paid after the recognition of the Confederacy. The Kear- 
sarge was lying three miles ofif the eastern entrance, as the 
Alabama came down to the west of the breakwater, escorted 
as far as the marine league by the Couronne, a French iron- 
clad which was to guard the neutrality of the territorial 
waters. Following the two vessels was an English yacht, the 
Deerhound. Semmes's purpose had been made public, and 
the shore was covered with throngs of people, wherever a 
spot could be found, to witness the fight. 

As the Alabama came out, the Kearsarge steamed off shore, 
to be well outside the neutral limits, and to prevent Semmes 
from finding a refuge if the battle went against him. On 
reaching a point seven miles from the land, the Kearsarge, at 
10.50, was turned short around, and steered for the enemy. 

The armament of the two ships was as follows : 


Number of Guns. Weight of Pro- 


4 short 32-pounders 128 lbs. 

2 Xl-inch pivots (smooth-bore) 272 lbs. 

1 30-pounder (rifle) ....'... 30 lbs. 

7 guns 430 lbs. 



Number ot Guns. Weight of Pro- 


6 long 32-pounders (52 cwfc.) 192 lbs. 

1 rifled lOO-pounder (Blakeley) 100 lbs. 

1 VHI-inch shell-gun 68 lbs. 

8 guns 360 lbs. 

In the matter of speed, that primary essential of a ship- 
of-war, the Kearsarge had somewhat the advantage. The 
difference in the number of men, 163 in the Kearsarge and 
149 in the Alabama (including officers in both cases), was 
not material. Both ships had their batteries pivoted to 
starboard ; and the Alabama fought seven guns on her en- 
gaged side, while the Kearsarge fought five. As to the size 
of the ships, the tonnage of the Kearsarge was 1,031, and 
that of the Alabama 1,016, by the old system of measure- 
ment. They were, therefore, in most respects closely 
matched ; and in regard to the comparative strength of their 
armaments, it can only be said that each carried what was 
considered by those who fitted her out the most effective 
battery for a ship of that size. 

As soon as the Kearsarge had turned to approach her, the 
Alabama opened fire, from a raking position, at a distance of 
a mile. This was at 10.57. The Kearsarge came on at full 
speed, receiving a second broadside, and part of a third. 
Coming within nine hundred yards, she sheered off and re- 
turned the enemy's fire with her starboard battery. At this 
point, she took the offensive and endeavored to pass astern 
of the Alabama and rake her ; but the latter prevented the 
mancBuvre by sheering, still keeping her starboard broad- 
side to the sloop. These tactics were continued throughout 


the action. Both vessels circled about a common centre, 
keeping broadside to broadside, and apparently heading in 
opposite directions, but in reality following each other on 
their circular course. In this way, they made seven com- 
plete revolutions, the Kearsarge under a full head of steam, 
always endeavoring to close and rake, and the Alabama edg- 
ing around, and keeping only her broadside exposed. 

The crew of the Alabama had had little practice in firing 
at a target, having been compelled to husband their ammu- 
nition, and the warfare in which they had been engaged for 
eighteen months not being of a kind that called for expert- 
ness in gunnery. Their firing at the beginning was rapid 
and wild, though it became steadier toward the close. The 
crew of the Kearsarge, on the other hand, under the thorough 
training of Thornton, her efiScient executive, made excellent 
practice, firing with deliberateness and precision. They had 
been instructed to point the heavy guns rather below than 
above the water-line, leaving it to the 32-pounders to sweep 
the decks. The two Xl-inch guns, and especially the after 
gun, played havoc with the enemy. The two ships gradu- 
ally neared in their revolutions, until they were only five or 
six hundi'ed yards apart. At this distance, the 100-pounder 
rifle of that day was no match for the heavier smooth-bores, 
in an engagement between wooden vessels ; and the sides of 
the Alabama were torn out by shells and her decks covered 
with killed and wounded. The crew of her after pivot-gun 
was renewed four times during the action, and nearly every 
man that had served it was disabled. 

At noon, after the action had been continued hotly for an 
hour, the Alabama ceased firing, and headed for the shore, 
then five miles distant. This exposed her port side, which 
was blown out by the Xl-inch shells, and only two guns 
could be brought to bear, one of which had been shifted 


from the other side. The ship was filling rapidly, and as 
the water was rising in the flreroom, Semmes set his fore- 
trysail and jibs, in the hope of escaping into neutral waters. 
The Kearsarge steered to cross his bow, and she was rapidly 
approaching, when Semmes saw that the end had come, and 
struck his flag. The Kearsarge then stopped, "uncertain 
whether Captain Semmes was not using some ruse," as Wins- 
low reports, and because it was not quite clear whether the 
flag had been hauled down or shot away. A white flag was 
then displayed, and the fire of the Kearsarge ceased. Pres- 
ently the Alabama renewed her fire ; and the Kearsarge, in 
consequence, opened again and fired three or four times. 
AH this time the white flag was flying. Semmes afterward 
made bitter complaints of this violation of the laws of war ; 
but it was perfectly justified by the firing of the Alabama 
after she had made the signal of surrender. 

It was now a little past noon, and the Alabama was settling 
perceptibly. A boat came alongside the Kearsarge to an- 
nounce the surrender, and to ask assistance for the sinking 
vessel. The only two boats in the ship that were not dis- 
abled were lowered and sent to bring off the officers and 
crew ; and the Alabama's boat was allowed to go back for 
the same purpose, the officer commanding the boat having 
given his pledge that he would return. He did not return, 
however ; and the incident is another instance of the results 
which are likely to attend the pledging or paroling of pris- 
oners during an engagement, or before possession has been 
taken of a vanquished enemy. 

At this moment the Deerhound approached. She had 
been hitherto a spectator of the action. Winslow hailed the 
yacht, asking her to assist in bringing off the people of the 
Alabama. The Deerhound complied with his request, and 
heading for the Alabama, which was now going down rapidly, 


she picked up forty-two persons, among whom were Semmes 
and fourteen other officers ; then, gradually ed.ging off, she 
steamed across the channel to Southampton. Winslow's offi- 
cers implored him to throw a shell at the Deerhound; when 
it was found that she was making off, but he refused ; and 
very properly, as her participation in the affair was due to his 
own suggestion. In making this suggestion, it appears to 
have been Winslow's idea that the Deerhound, after receiving 
the fugitives, would deliver them up to him as his prisoners. 
But he had no right to expect anything of the kind. Had 
the owner of the Deerhound taken such action, he would 
have incurred a heavy responsibility to the power whose 
officers and men he had so delivered into the hands of their 
enemy. On the other hand, if he had undertaken of his 
own motion to rescue them, either from death or from cap- 
ture, he would have been connecting himself inexcusably 
with belligerent operations. It made no difference whether 
the men were in the ship, or in boats, or in the water; 
wherever they were, their being there was a part and a con- 
sequence of the battle, and while the victor was on the spot, 
and about to reap the fruits of victory, a neutral had no right 
to interfere in any way whatever. Had the Deerhound's 
interference been unauthorized, it would have been the right 
and the duty of Winslow to have kept her off, and if the oc- 
casion required it, to have used force in so doing. But as 
she was doing merely what Winslow asked of her, it is hard 
to see how he could have been justified in firing at her, or 
what blame could be imputed to her owner. 

The engagement lasted an hour, and in twenty minutes 
after the last shot was fired the Alabama sank out of sight. 
The number of casualties on board the defeated cruiser was 
not far from forty. Semmes allows thirty in his report^ 
written at Southampton two days after the action ; but owing 


to his hasty departure, and his separation from the rest of 
his crew, he could not well have known the whole number. 
Of the seventy prisoners taken by the Kearsarge, three were 
in a dying condition, and seventeen were wounded. Of the 
crew of the Kearsarge, three men were wounded by the 
bnisting of a 68-pound shell on the quarter deck, one of 
whom afterward died. With this exception no one was hurt. 
It is commonly supposed that the Alabama's guns were 
served by seamen-gunners Irom the .Excellent, the gunnery- 
ship of the English navy. The supposition rests on a state- 
ment made soon after the action by a reporter of the Lon- 
don Times, who referred to Semmes as his authority. But 
Semmes denied the statement explicitly. A large number of 
his crew were Englishmen, several of whom had served in men- 
of-war, and a few were Naval Reserve men ; but beyond this 
there seems to have been no foundation for the assertion. If 
it was true, it certainly did not speak well for the Excellent. 
Out of three hundred and seventy shot and shell fired by the 
Alabama, only twenty-eight struck the Kearsarge, of which 
one-half took effect in the huU. The rest struck the sails, 
rigging and boats. None of the twenty-eight did any mate- 
rial injury. The hammock-nettings of the Kearsarge were set 
on fire, but the flames were soon extinguished. One 100- 
pound shell exploded in the smoke-stack. Another lodged 
in the stem-post, but fortunately did not explode; which 
led Senmies to say that the fate of the battle was decided by 
the defects of a percussion cap. It is not an uncommon 
foible in beaten commanders to assign these accidental or 
incidental causes for their defeat, and sometimes with more 
or less foundation ; but in the engagement of the Kearsarge 
and Alabama, the difference in the efficiency of" the crews 
was too marked to admit this as in any sense an explanation. 
Moreover, the shell was fired in the latter part of the action. 


when the Alabama was already beaten. The Kearsarge fired 
one hundred and seventy-three shot and shell during the 
fight. How .many took effect it is impossible to say ; but 
there were few of them that failed to do some injury, and in 
an hour they sank the enemy. 

Great capital was made by Semmes and his friends after 
the action by asserting that the Kearsarge was covered with 
" chain-plating," and, in fact, an ironclad; and furthermore, 
that by concealing the fact, Captain Winslow-had taken a dis- 
honorable advantage of his adversary. The plating consisted 
simply of one hundred and twenty fathoms of sheet-chain 
placed on the vessel's side in the wake of the engine, secured 
up and down by marline to eyebolts in the planking, and 
covering a space fifty feet in length by six in depth. The 
device was adopted to serve as a protection for the machinery, 
as the coal bunkers were emptied. It would have afforded 
no protection against the 100-pound projectiles, if they had 
struck it ; but, as a matter of fact, it was struck only twice, 
once by a shot, and once by a shell, from a 32-pouiider, which 
broke the chain as they struck. The protection it afforded 
was therefore immaterial. As to the deception, it was cov- 
ered with one-inch deal boards, as a finish ; it had been put 
on a year before at the Azores ; and no secret had ever been 
made of it. But even supposing that there had been an 
intention to deceive, it would have been quite as legitimate 
as the ordinary disguises of neutral flags or merchant-rigs, 
which are every-day ruses; and Semmes had never shown 
such a disposition to encounter ships-of-war as to make it 
advisable to discourage Vn'm unnecessarily. Whether there 
was an intention to deceive or not, the claim of Semmes that 
he had been deluded into fighting an ironclad under the 
supposition that she was a wooden vessel, will not be treated 
by history with great respect, in view of his well-lmown as- 


tuteness ; and in view of the fact that, had he been disposed 
to nse them, he might have found in his chain-locker the 
materials for casing his own vessel in similar armor. Never- 
theless, he understood perfectly the course of public senti- 
ment in England; and when it appeared that an English- 
built vessel, with English guns, and a crew of Englishmen, 
had been thoroughly beaten and sunk in an hour by Ameri- 
cans in an American ship with American guns, the ironclad 
theory received ready acceptance, and was held to account 
sufficiently for that phenomenal occurrence. 

In 1863, the year after the Florida and Alabama appeared, 
several attempts were made by the Confederacy to send ad- 
ditional cruisers to sea, but most of them were unsuccessful. 
The ironclad rams buUt by the Lah-ds for Bullock were 
seized by the English Government, after a three months' 
delay, during which the most earnest remonstrances were 
made by Mr. Adams, ending with a solemn declaration that 
to suffer the departure of the vessels was an act of war. 
The Canton or Pampero was also seized, and remained under 
seizure during the rest of the war. The Alexandra, whose 
trial was one of the celebrated cases under the Neutrality 
Laws, was finally released. She was subsequently libelled 
at Nassau, and remained there untU the war was over. By 
this time the Government had begun to show a little more 
regard for its neutral obligations. Two cruisers, however, 
got to sea from English ports during this year. These were 
the Eappahannock and the Georgia. 

The Eappahannock had a very brief career. She was for- 
merly the Victor, and had been a despatch-vessel in the 
British Navy. The Government, finding her unserviceable, 
sold her on November 10, 1863, to private 'parties, who were 
acting for the Confederates. After the sale, the vessel re- 


mained at Sheemess, refitting under the direction of per- 
sons connected with the Eoyal Dockyard. Suspicions were 
aroused as to her charaotei-, and inquiries were set on foot ; 
and the vessel, to escape detention, hastily put to sea, with 
the workmen still in her, and with only a part of her crew, 
which had been enlisted by the Inspector of Machinery at 
the dockyard. She was put in commission in the channel, 
as a Confederate man-of-war, with the usual ceremonies. 
Proceeding to Calais, she claimed admission to the port as a 
ship-of-war in distress, and needing repairs. The impu- 
dence of this demand was too much for even the most sym- 
pathetic neutral; and after the Rappahannock had made 
some attempt to enlist more men, and to continue her prep- 
arations for sea, her operations were summarily ended by a 
French gunboat, which was stationed across her bow. Find- 
ing it impossible to fit her out, her commander finally con- 
cluded to abandon her. 

The Georgia was somewhat more successful. She was a 
screw-steamer of about seven hundred tons, and was built 
for the Confederates on the Clyde. She was launched in 
January, 1863, and put to sea in April, under the name of 
the Japan. A Liverpool firm was employed as the interme- 
diary to cover all the transactions connected with the vessel. 
One member of this firm was her ostensible owner, and she 
was registered in his name as a British vessel. Another 
member of the firm took charge of a small steamer, the Alar, 
which was freighted with guns, ammunition, and stores, and 
met the Japan, or Georgia, oS Morlaix, where her prepara- 
tions were completed. The crew had already been engaged, 
and advances had been made by the same firm before the 
Georgia left the Clyde. For these transactions, proceedings 
were afterward instituted against the guilty parties, under 
the Foreign Enlistment Act, and they were sentenced to pay 


a fine of ^0 eaoli — a penalty whicli was hardly calculated 
to deter Her Majesty's subjects from committing violations 
of neutrality. Meantime the Georgia had escaped. 

The Georgia's career extended over a period of one year, 
during which she cruised in the Middle and South Atlantic. 
She was at Bahia in May, 1863, and at Simon's Bay in 
August. Late in October she arrived at Cherbourg, where 
she lay for four months, part of the time undergoing repairs 
in the dockyard. During the month of April, 1864, she was 
at Bordeaux, again repairing. She had made no prizes 
since -leaving Brest, and her cruise, on the whole, had not 
been very successful. She was accordingly taken to Liver- 
pool, her crew were discharged, her warlike equipment 
landed, and she was sold to an English ship-owner, the bill 
of sale being signed by Captain Bullock, the agent of the 
Confederate Navy Department. The transfer by a belliger- 
ent to a neutral of a vessel, even a merchant-vessel, during 
war, is always a subject of suspicion ; much more so that of 
a ship-of-war. At the instance of Mr. Adams, the Niagara, 
then lying at Antwerp, under the command of Commodore 
Craven, came to Iiiverpool, ascertained that Lisbon was the 
destination of the Georgia, and immediately sailed thither 
to intercept her. Falling in with the converted merchant- 
man outside of Lisbon, Craven seized her, and sent her to 
Boston, where she was condemned by the prize-court ; and 
her owner never received any satisfaction for the loss of the 
£15,000 which he had been so rash as to pay to the Confed- 
erate Treasury. 

About the time that the Georgia was launched, another 
attempt was made by the Confederates to send out a cruiser, 
this time from one of their own ports. For eight months the 
blockade-runner Nashville had been lying in the Great 
Ogeechee Eiver, blockaded by three of our gunboats. Dur- 


ing the early part of this time, she had been loaded with 
cotton, and it was her intention to run the blockade at the 
fu'st opportunity ; but the river was so well guarded, that, 
though constantly on the alert, she never ventured to run 
out. Later, she withdrew up the river, her cargo was re- 
moved, and she returned to her position fitted out as a 

The Nashville's speed and other admirable qualities were 
well known, and it was a matter of the first importance to 
destroy her. Nothing but the most constant watchfulness 
prevented her egress. She lay in an unassailable position 
above Fort McAllister, a strong and well-constructed earth- 
work, which was so placed as to enfilade the narrow and 
difficult channel for a mile below. The river had been 
staked opposite the fort, and a line of torpedoes had been 
planted at intervals lower down in the channel. Above the 
obstructions lay the Nashville, ready to dash out at the first 
sign of a relaxation of the blockade. 

The blockading gunboats were powerless to do more than 
watch, and early in 1863, the force had been increased by 
the addition of the monitor Montauk, under Commander 
Worden. On the 27th of January, and again on the 1st of 
February, Worden had made attacks upon the fort; but 
notwithstanding the vigor and accuracy of the bombard- 
ment, the character of the work was such that the injuries 
resulting from the attack were easily repaired. The moni- 
tor stood the test well, for, though repeatedly hit, she 
received little damage. Her progress up the river was 
checked, not by the battery, but by the obstructions ; and 
the fort, though incapable of making a serious impression 
on the vessel, could prevent the destruction of the barrier. 
When the Monitor advanced, the Nashville found a refuge 
up the river, where she was out of the way of any possible 


harm ; and the only result -which the blockading force 
seemed able to accomplish was to prevent her from coming 

On the evening of the 27th of February, the Nashville 
was observed to be in motion above the fort. Making a 
careful reconnoissance, Worden discovered that, in moving 
up the river, the steamer had grounded about twelve hun- 
dred yards above the barrier. He saw his opportunity, and 
resolved to make the most of it. Having decided upon the 
destruction of the Nashville, he made his plans with care 
and judgment. As it was high water at the time of her 
grounding, he knew that she could not get off before morn- 
ing ; and though an attack by daylight would expose him 
to the fire of the fort, he decided to wait, in the conviction 
that the steamer was in his power, and that the light was as 
great a necessity to him as it could be to his enemy. 

At daylight the next morning, the Montauk moved up to 
the bariier, followed at a distance by the three gunboats. 
Between the monitor and her antagonist lay a point of 
swampy land, which formed the sharp bend in the river be- 
low which the obstructions had been placed. Planting him- 
self directly under the fire of Fort McAllister, to which he 
made no attempt to reply, Worden opened deliberately 
upon the Nashville, whose upper works only were visible 
across the swamp, until he had determined the range with ac- 
curacy. Dropping his Xl-inoh and XV-inch shells with fatal 
precision upon the vessel, he could watch the explosion of 
shell after shell on her decks ; and in a few minutes she was 
in flames. 

A thick fog now settled down, and shut out the combat- 
ants from view. The Montauk continued her fire at inter- 
vals, keeping her guns at the same direction and elevation ; 
and a sharp lookout was kept for boarding-parties, which 
I.'— 10 


might have taken advantage of the weather to come off from 
the fort. No attempt was made, however; and when the 
fog lifted, the NashviUe was on fire, forward, aft, and amid- 
ships. Presently her pivot gun exploded with the heat; 
next the smoke-stack toppled over ; and finally, about one 
honr after the attack had begun, the magazine blew up, 
leaving nothing of the vessel but the smoking fragments of 
her huU. 

To the Montauk, the battle had been no more than an 
hour's target practice of a winter morning. The gunners of 
Fort McAllister, either unprepared or demoralized, made bad 
work of it, and struck the ironclad only five times, doing no 
damage. The gunboats, remaining at a considerable dis- 
tance down the river, though near enough to fire with ef- 
fect at the fort, were not injured in the least. Aftgr the de- 
struction of the Nashville, the Montauk dropped down the 
river. On her way she struck and exploded a torpedo, 
causing a serious leak, but Worden kept on until safely out 
of range of the fort. The monitor was then run upon a mud 
flat, which stopped the leak effectually until the injury could 
be repaired. This was the only casualty in the action — an 
action which in its neatness and finish left nothing to be 

The last of the commerce-destroyers was the Sea King, or 
Shenandoah. This vessel was a full-rigged ship with aux- 
iliary steam power, of seven hundred and ninety tons, built 
on the Clyde, and employed in the East India trade. She 
was a very fast ship, a twenty-four hours' run of three hun- 
dred and twenty miles being no uncommon thing with her. 
She cleared from London for Bombay October 8, 1864, her 
Captain, Oorbett, having a power of sale from the owner to 
dispose of her at any time within six months. She had on 
board a large supply of coal and provisions ; but she was not 


altered Or equipped for war purposes, and she carried no 
armament except two 12-pounders, which had been on board 
when she was originally purchased. 

On the same day, the steamer Laurel left Liverpool, hav- 
ing cleared for Nassau, with several Confederate naval 
oificers, and a cargo of cases marked " machinery," but con- 
taining guns with their carriages and equipments. Making 
her way to Funchal, Madeira, she met the Sea King. The 
two vessels then proceeded to Desertas, a barren island in 
the neighborhood, where the Sea King received her arma- 
ment and stores, and was transferred by Corbett to Captain 
Waddell, of the Confederate navy, her future commander. 
Waddell put her in commission, under the name of the 
Shenandoah, and she started on her cruise. 

The plan of the cruise of the Shenandoah was based upon 
the movements of the Pacific whaling fleet. A portion of 
this fleet habitually cruised in the vicinity of the Caroline 
Islands for sperm whales, going north in spring. It passed 
the Bonins and along the coast of Japan, to the Sea of Och- 
otsk, where it cruised for right whale. Thence it pro- 
ceeded to Behring Strait and the Arctic Ocean. On its re- 
turn, it refreshed at the Sandwich Islands, generally ai-riving 
there in October or November. The plan adopted for the 
Shenandoah was to leave the meridian of the Cape of Good 
Hope about the 1st of January for Australia, arriving about 
the middle of February ; thence after a short stay, to pror 
ceed north through the Carolines ; and after spending some 
time in the route of the China-bound clippers, to enter the 
Ochotsk, and make the round of Behring Strait. Upon her 
return, she was to take up a position a little to the north- 
ward of the Sandwich Islands, to intercept such of the fleet 
as might have escaped. 

This elaborate plan was devised by Commander Brooke at 


Eichmond, and was the direct result of that officer's experi- 
ence in 1855, -when serving with the North Pacific Exploring 
Expedition. It was sent by the Confederate Secretary of the 
Navy to Bullock, who had recently obtained control of the 
Sea King, and who was considering what disposition should 
be made of hei\ Bullock immediately acted upon it. As 
the commerce of the United States had been thinned out 
in the cruising grounds of the Alabama and the other com- 
merce-destroyers, it was desirable to seek a new field of 
operations ; and the Kichmond plan seemed to answer the 

In pursuance of this plan, after cruising for three months 
in the Atlantic, and taking several prizes, the Shenandoah 
proceeded to Tristan d'Acunha, where the crews of the cap- 
tured vessels were landed. From this point she went to 
Melbourne, where she remained nearly a month. She was 
allowed to make extensive repairs in her machinery, or at 
least, repairs that took a considerable time, and she took on 
board three hundred tons of coal from a vessel sent from 
Liverpool for the purpose. Having left Madeira short of 
her complement, she enlisted forty-three men at Melbourne, 
who were taken on board as the vessel was on the point of 
sailing. » 

Leaving Melbourne on the 18th of February, 1865, the 
Shenandoah proceeded under sail to her proposed cruising 
ground in the neighborhood of Behring Strait. Here she 
captured and burned a large number of whalers. The cap- 
ture and destruction of prizes was continued until the 28th 
of June, when it came to an end, on account of information 
received by Waddell, that the Confederate Government had 
ceased to exist. Waddell then brought his vessel to Liver- 
pool, and surrendered her to the British Government. 

The efforts of the Confederate agents to obtain ships-of- 


■war in France were defeated by the timely interference of 
the French Government. Six vessels of a formidable char- 
acter were built, but only one, the Stonewall, found its way 
into the hands of the Confederates, and this one only toward 
the close of the war. Proceeding to Ferrol in March, 1865, 
she fell in with the frigate Niagara and the sloop-of-war 
Sacramento, under Commodore Craven, who took up a posi- 
tion in the adjoining port of Coruna. The Stonewall was 
a ram with armored sides (four or five-inches), a 300-pounder 
rifled Armstrong gun in the casemated bow, and a fixed tur- 
ret aft containing two rifled TO-pound^rs. The Niagara 
carried ten 150-pounder Parrott rifles, and the Sacramento 
a miscellaneous armament, in which two Xl-inch and two • 
IX-inch guns, and one 60-pounder, were the principal pieces. 
The Stonewall moved out before the harbor of Coruna, mak- 
ing various demonstrations calculated to provoke an en- 
counter ; but the two vessels refrained from attacking her, 
upon the ground that an engagement would result disas- 

It is only necessary to make one comment on this affair. 
The Stonewall was truly an ugly antagonist. It is the 
opinion of many professional men that, properly handled, 
she could have sunk the two American vessels ; and as far 
as probabilities were concerned, the chances might be said 
to lie with the ram. It may, however, be seriously ques- 
tioned whether operations which are based exclusively upon 
nice calculations of the risk to be run in engaging an enemy 
are likely to be fruitful of great results. 

The Stonewall proceeded to Lisbon, and thence to Ha- 
vana, where she was surrendered to the United States by 
the Spanish Government, the war having terminated. She 
was subsequently sold to Japan. 

Among all the developments in naval warfare that were 


brought about between 1861 and 1865, the art of commerce- 
destroying, as systematized and applied by Semmes, will 
not be reckoned the least important. In saying this, it must 
be understood that reference is made, not to its ethical, but 
to its military aspect. As a mode of carrying on hostilities 
it is neither chivalrous nor romantic, nor is" it that which a 
naval officer of the highest type would perhaps most de- 
sire to engage in ; but it fulfils, in an extraordinary degree, 
the main object of modern war, that of crippling an ad- 

As war in our days has lost much of its brutality, so it has 
largely lost the element of chivalry ; it has become scien- 
tific, stern, bloody, and business-like. The Alabama's mode 
of warfare, however, combined the greatest effect with the 
least bloodshed, and, it may be added, with the least outlay 
of men and money ; and its success has stimulated efforts in 
the great navies of the world, which will doubtless some 
day result in similar enterprises. The name of the Alabama, 
like that of the Monitor, has become a generic term ; and 
future Alabamas will regard the cruise of Semmes's vessel 
as the starting-point in all their operations. 

Commerce-destroying had been practised on a considerable 
scale in earlier wars ; but the introduction of fast steamers 
enabled Semmes to carry his operations to a point of perfec- 
tion that had never before been attained. His preliminary 
cruise in the Sumter showed him the possibilities and the 
limitations of this species of warfare ; and he entered upon 
the cmise of the Alabama with a well-considered plan of 
operations. He began with a careful -study of the ocean 
highways of commerce; and these determined the locality 
of his successive cruising-grounds. It is upon this discovery 
of strategic points that his patent chiefly rests. He calcu- 
lated nicely the time required for news of his presence to 


reach the United States, and before a ship could be sent 
after him, he had moyed to a new scene of operations. The 
period which he generally allowed himself in any one quar- 
ter was about two months. At the end of this time he was 
on his way to another cruising-ground ; and unless his 
movements could be foreseen, he was tolerably safe from 
pursuit. He passed his first two months in the North At- 
lantic. His next field was the West Indies. On each of 
these stations he found a large number of unprotected mer- 
chant-vessels. After leaving the West Indies, he posted 
himself near the equator, in the track of South American 
commerce. The waters over which this commerce passes lie 
within a belt not more than one hundred miles wide. The 
Alabama occupied this belt. Next she passed two months 
on the coast of Brazil. Thence she went to the Cape, near 
which the whole commerce of the Indian Ocean must pass. 
At the Cape again she remained about two months; but 
American shipmasters had by this time become cautious, 
and they gave the African coast a wide berth. From the 
Cape Semmes went to the Straits of Sunda, the gateway of 
the China Sea. Here he remained two months, and was 
again successful. 

During aU this period the Alabama was kept constantly 
moving. The only delays were for repairs and coal. The 
latter was furnished at first by coaHng-vessels sent to ap- 
pointed rendezvous. Later, the ship depended upon prizes, 
and upon supplies in neutral ports, which were never 
grudged. When a long cruise made repairs or rest a neces- 
sity, an anchorage was selected, which from its remoteness 
and obscurity, and from its sHght dependence upon a civil- 
ized power, gave an opportunity to refit at leisure and in 
security. The Areas, Fernando de Noronha, Angra Pequena, 
and Pulo Condore were successively utilized in this way. 


When more extensive repairs were required, Semmes put 
boldly into a neutral port, and his ingenuity generally sup- 
plied the authorities with the points that were needed te 
justify them ia extending to him every facility. 

It is common to speak of the Alabama and the other Con- 
federate cruisers as privateers. It is hard, to find a suitable 
designation for them, but privateers they certainly were not. 
The essence of a privateer lies in its private ownership ; its 
ofiBcers are persons in private employment ; and the au- 
thority under which it acts is a letter- of -marctue. To call 
the cruisers pirates is merely to make use of invective. 
Most of them answered all the legal requirements of ships- 
of-war; they were owned by the Government, and they 
were commanded by naval officers acting under a genuine 
commission. Some of them were put in commission at sea 
or in foreign waters, and never saw the country of their 
adoption ; but their commission could not thereby be in- 
validated. There is no rule of law which prescribes the 
place where a Government shall commission its ships, or 
which requires the ceremony to take place, like the ses- 
sions of prize-courts, within the belligerent territory. 

Assuming that the commissioned vessels of the Confed- 
erates were prima facie ships-of-war, -the question arises 
whether they were entitled to the privileges accorded to 
such vessels by the usage of nations. They were acting for 
a Government whose belligerency had been recognized, 
. though no recognition had been accorded to the state which 
it was seeking to establish. This fact might modify some- 
what the view in which the vessels were regarded by foreign 
states, in that the latter could maintain no official relations 
with the insurgent Government, and were therefore de- 
prived of the ordinary method of redress, if the vessels 
should commit an offence against their sovereignty. But 


the metliod of obtaining redress by negotiation is by no 
means the only way of dealing with offending ships-of-war 
in foreign waters. They may be summarily ordered to de- 
part ; they may be forbidden to enter ; and, finally, if they 
assail in any way the local sovereignty, or if they refuse to 
comply with an order for their departure or their exclusion, 
force may be used against them. There is, and there can 
be, no rule of law, which compels a government to remain 
passive while its laws are openly violated, simply because of 
the sanctity which is supposed to surround a public vessel ; 
nor, when a neutral government has allowed its neutrality 
to be infringed by the cruisers of one belligerent, can it 
justify itself to the other by putting forward such a plea. 
With stronger reason, a ship-of-war whose very existence is 
a consequence of evasions or infringements of the local law 
may be denied the ordinary immunities. When, therefore, 
the Alabama and the Florida, vessels that had been allowed 
to go to sea from English ports in violation of English neu- 
trality, at a subsequent period entered ports of the same 
Power, while engaged in their belligerent enterprises, the 
Government could not excuse its inaction on the ground of 
respect for the Confederate commission ; and, by refusing 
either to exclude or to detain the cruisers, it added to the 
wrong which it had already committed. 

In view of the respect which civilized states exact for 
their public vessels, it is desirable that every safeguard 
should be employed by the State itself to protect this 
character from abuse. The Confederate Government showed 
considerable laxity in this respect. If it had not been in- 
capable of negotiation, and if the neutral powers had 
pursued the ordinary policy of neutrals, it would doubtless 
have received some emphatic remonstrances on the subject. 
It procured cruisers abroad through " shifts and strata- 


gems," ' cleared tliem under the names of fictitious owners, 
or brought them out without a clearance, took formal pos- 
session of them on the high seas, though they were osten- 
sibly and according to their papers foreign vessels, and put 
them in commission as ships-of-war. It procured other 
vessels abroad, not intended for war purposes, which it 
owned and controlled, and. in some cases officered from its 
navy, and which it employed in trade — that is, as blockade- 
runners. These vessels, owned, controlled, and officered by 
the Confederate Government, sailed sometimes under the 
British flag, and with British papers, and sometimes with 
those of the Government to which they belonged. They 
were fitted out, now as ships-of-war, now as merchant vessels, 
according as the one character or the other would best 
satisfy the exigency of the moment, and the demands of the 
local authorities in foreign ports. 

A few of the prominent cases will serve to show the 
nature of these arrangements. The Japan or Georgia left 
the Clyde, registered in the name of a British subject as a 
British vessel, and she remained, for nearly three months, 
still registered in the name of her ostensible owner, though 
she was all that time engaged in hostilities agaiust the 
United States. A year later she returned to Liverpool and 
was dismantled. Whether she was then a ship-of-war or a 
merchant vessel does not appear. She was soon after sold 
to an English subject, the bill of sale being signed by 
Bullock, just as the Sumter had been sold at Gibraltar, when 
Semmes found that he could not take her out to sea. 

The Kappahannook left Sheerness in haste as a merchant- 
vessel, with her workmen still in her, assumed a public 
character in the run across the channel, and sought admis- 

• Barl Eussell's letter of February 12, 1865. 


sion at Calais as a ship-of-war in distress. The Tuscaloosa, 
a prize of the Alabama, entered the harbor at the Cape with a 
prize crew, and with her captured cargo, which she hoped to 
sell, still on board, and claimed the privileges of a ship-of- 
war, because her captor chose so to designate her; and 
after being accorded these privileges, she left the harbor to 
carry her wool to Angra PequeSa, where it was actually sold. 
A British Vice-Admiralty court could obtain no evidence at 
Nassau that the Florida, an exact copy of the gun-vessels of 
the English navy, was other than a merchantman, owned by 
a British firm, and in a week after her release she was at sea 
as a Confederate ship-of-war. Toward the close of the war 
blockade-runners were hastily converted into cruisers, and 
as hastily changed back to blockade-runners, until the Con- 
federate navy list must have been a hopeless muddle. The 
blockade-runner Edith suddenly appeared out of Wilming- 
ton one night in October, 1864, under the character and des- 
ignation of the " C. S. Steamer Chickamauga," armed with 
a 64-pounder and a 32-pounder, and, after seiziug and de- 
stroying four or five unfortunate coasters, returned to port 
in three weeks, to resume her former state and occupation. 
It is hard to see what purpose could be served by belliger- 
ent operations of such a character, at this stage of the con- 
flict, and it shows the desperate straits to which the Con- 
federate Government was put toward the end in attempting 
to keep up the semblance of a naval war. 

But the vessel which had the most varied career was the 
Tallahassee. She was originally called the Atlanta, and 
under t^at name sh& arrived at Bermuda in the spring of 
1864 She made two trips to Wilmington as a blockade- 
runner. She was then converted into a cruiser, under the 
name of the Tallahassee, and sailed from Wilmington early 
in August. Her course was shaped for Halifax, where she 


arrived on the 19th, after having destroyed several vessels. 
Owing to the vigilance of the authorities, who for once were 
on the alert to prevent infringements of the neutrality regu- 
lations, she was unable to accomplish all that she wanted in 
getting repairs and coal, and on the 26th, she returned to 
Wilmington. In November she made another short cruise, 
this time under the name of the Olustee,' during which she 
took a few prizes. With this cruise her belligerent career 
came to an end. Her battery was removed, and her officers 
and crew were detached. A bill of sale was drawn up, the 
ostensible purchaser being the navy agent at Wilmington ; a 
register was issued, a crew engaged, a cargo of cotton 
shipped, and invoices and bills of lading made out in the 
prescribed form. She received the name of the Chameleon, 
which must have been a piece of pleasantry on the part of 
whoever may have been considered as her owner. She left 
Wilmington in December, under the command of Captain 
Wilkinson, of the Confederate navy, under orders-from the 
Navy Department, and her object was to obtain a supply of 
provisions at Bermuda, of which the army was in dire need. 
Upon her arrival the Lieutenant-Governor was somewhat 
exercised as to her character, but finally decided that she 
was not a man-of-war, having been " sold to a private mer- 
chant," to borrow the phrase of the British counter-case at 
Geneva. According to Wilkinson, the vessel had been " so 
thoroughly whitewashed" that the authorities could find 
nothing to lay hold of. After loading her cargo, she steered 
for Wilmington, but Fort Fisher had now fallen, and she was 
compelled to put back. Charleston was tried with no better 
success ; and after landing her provisions at Nassau, the 

' According to the statement in the case of the United States at Geneva, ** it is 
not quite clear whether she made two tripfi, one under each name, or whether the 
name was changed in one trip," 


Chameleon was taken to Liverpool, and delivered to Fraser, 
Trenholm & Co., the Confederate agents. She was subse- 
quently seized by the British Government, and ultimately 
surrendered to the United States. 

A great deal of uncalled-for abuse has been heaped upon 
the South for the work of the Confederate cruisers, and 
their mode of warfare has been repeatedly denounced as 
barbarous and piratical in ofScial and unofficial publications. 
But neither the privateers, like the Petrel and the Savannah, 
nor the commissioned cruisers, like the Alabama and the 
Florida, were guilty of any practices which, as against their 
enemies, were contrary to the laws of war. The expediency 
of enforcing the right of maritime capture has been much 
discussed during the last hundred years, and has often been 
questioned on humanitarian grounds. It is not proposed to 
consider that question here. For the present purpose, it is 
sufficient that the right to capture an enemy's private prop- 
erty at sea is fully recognized by the law and practice of na- 
tions to-day. All that is necessary is to establish the enemy 
ownership, and this being done, the prize-courts of every 
country in the world will decree confiscation. Whether the 
prize is destroyed at sea, or is brought into a prize-court and 
condemned, can make no possible difference to the owner, if 
the owner is clearly an enemy. The officer making the cap- 
ture is responsible to liis Government, and as the proceeds 
of the prize usually go in part to the State, the officer's 
Government may and doubtless will require him to bring in 
his prize, if possible, for adjudication. But this is a matter 
purely of internal discipline, a question between the' State 
and its officers. So also, if by accident or intention neutral 
property is captured and destroyed, a question arises between 
the captor's government and that of the neutral, but it is a 
question with which the other belligerentTias nothing to do. 


So much for the law on the subject. As for the practice, 
it is usual for governments to require their officers to give 
sufficient reason why a prize is not brought in. Either the 
unseaworthiness of the prize, or the want of men to navigate 
her, would manifestly be a sufficient reason. In the absence 
of any preventing cause, the prize should be brought to a 
port of adjudication ; and, if that is impossible, to the near- 
est neutral port that will admit it. But during the war, the 
ports of the Confederates were under blockade, and the rule 
was generally adopted by neutrals of excluding the prizes of 
both belligerents. Nothing then remained but to destroy 
the captured vessel at sea. To have done otherwise would 
have been to abandon the right of maritime capture. 

The practice of destroying prizes, however, even when it is 
possible to send them in, is no new thing in maritime war- 
fare, especially in the maritime warfare of the United States. 
The cruise of the Argus in 1813 was precisely parallel to those 
of the Alabama and Florida ; and the instructions of the Navy 
Department to commanding officers during the war of 1812 
were to " destroy all you capture, unless in some extraordinary 
cases that clearly warrant an exception." To take a later in- 
stance, in a decision in the High Court of Admiralty during 
the Crimean War, Dr. Lushington said, " It may be justifia- 
ble, or even praiseworthy in the captors to destroy an enemy's 
vessel. Indeed, the bringing into adjudication at all of an 
enemy's vessel is not called for by any respect to the rights of 
the enemy proprietor, where there is no neutral property on 
board." The French, in at least two cases in the war of 1870, 
burned prizes at sea, because it was inconvenient to send 
prize crews on board ; and from more recent events it is clear 
that other Governments, in case of war with a commercial 
power, will deem themselves fortunate if they can rival the 
achievements of the Confederate commerce-destroyers. 



As it was a part of the object of this book to deal with the 
condition of the navy at the outbreak of the war and with 
the preparations made by the Government to carry it on, it 
will not be out of place to dwell for a moment upon certain 
conclusions which may be drawn from a consideration of this 
branch of the subject. As conclusions by a non-professional 
observer, they are submitted with hesitation and diffidence ; 
and as they carry with them no weight of authority, they 
may be taken simply at their own worth. 

A military force, whether intended to operate on land or 
at sea, exists primarily for purposes of war. Cruising on 
foreign stations during peace, in these days when piracy has 
disappeared, is not an occupation calculated to exercise 
fully its powers. Ships-of-war are no doubt of use from 
time to time at various points, but their usefulness is not so 
great that a government whose foreign relations are gener- 
ally amicable would keep up a large establishment for this 
object alone. Their real purpose is to become the national 
defence in time of war. As with the ships, so with the offi- 
cers ; it is in war, not in peace, that the fruit of their la- 
bors is to be gathered. 

So far, doubtless, everybody is agreed ; in fact, what has 
been said is little more than a truism. But the logical in- 
ference drawn from the premises is far from commanding 


Tiniversal assent, and still farther from obtaining recognition 
in practice. The inference is this : that the primary object 
for a navy at all times is to maintain itself, in all its 
branches, mat&iel, personnel, and organization, in the most 
perfect state that is possible of readiness and efllciency for 
war. This should be the first and ever-present considera- 
tion with those who enact, who administer, and who execute 
measures of naval policy ; the ability to place the whole es- 
tablishment in the condition of active warlike operation, as 
instantaneously and as smoothly as an engineer starts his 

In 1861, the navy was J3y no means in a condition of 
readiness for war, although war was the purpose for which it 
existed. In matSriel, it had a few ships suitable for cruis- 
ing purposes, and it had superior ordnance ; but half the 
fleet was antiquated, and the rest was displaying the flag on 
distant stations. As to the personnel, it is useless to deny 
the fact that the list was heavily weighted by the old officers 
at the head, who had reached their position, not because of 
merit, but because of the date when they happened to enter 
the service ; that the middle of the list was suffering from 
long stagnation, and from the absence of any inducement 
to effort ; and finally, that the young men, who were to bear 
the brunt of the work, were altogether too few for the needs 
of the service. It is commonly said that the navy was on a 
peace footing ; but if that was the case, a complete and well- 
defined provision should have been made for expansion. To 
speak of a " peace footing" implies that a " war footing" is 
something different ; and no naval establishment can con- 
sider itself prepared for war that has not made beforehand 
all the arrangements necessary to pass at once from one to 
the other. 

Oonceding the necessity of a peace footing for personnel 


and materiel, on the score of expense, there is no necessity 
for such a thing as a peace footing for organization. The 
organization of a military or naval establishment is fixed 
primarily with a view to eflBciency in war, and only snch 
slight modifications are introduced in time of peace as are 
indispensable. So far from this being the case in 1861, the 
whole administration was arranged on an exactly opposite 
basis. It was about as unfitted for the conduct of a war as 
it was possible to be. The organization was that of five 
bureaus, independent of each other, and only united by a 
common subordination to the Head of the Department. 
Now, whatever merits the system of nearly independent 
bureaus may have in time of peace, it is entirely inadequate 
as an organization for carrying on war. The direction of 
military or naval operations must be centralized, not only in 
the person of the Departmental head, but in his responsible 
professional advisers ; and to impose this heavy burden upon 
Chiefs of Bureaus, whose business is with certain specific 
branches of administration, is to expect men to take in at 
the same moment the whole field of view and the minutest 
details of a single part. It is the essence of a good organ- 
ization that every branch of it should have its own work, 
and should confine itself to that; and for that, and that 
alone, it should be held to the fullest responsibility. The 
province of a Bureau is to furnish a gun, or a hull, or an 
engine, or a crew, the best possible that can be obtained ; 
and to devolve upon its Chief the duty of planning cam- 
paigns is only to divert him from his legitimate business, 
and would, in the nature of things, result disastrously both 
to the campaign and the bureau. The general direction of 
military and naval operations, if we are to accept the testi- 
mony of the highest authorities and the evidence of the most 
successful campaigns, is the work of men bred in the busi- 


ness. It cannot be done successfully, according to the de- 
mands, of modern warfare, by this or that officer picked up 
on the spur of the moment, or by boards of officers created 
as the exigency arises. It must be put in the hands of those 
■who have spent much labor and thought in examining and 
fastening upon the strong and weak points of all possible 
enemies; who have made their office the repository of all 
possible information ; who have, as Moltke is said to have 
had, the whole details of campaigns in their pigeon-holes, to 
be modified, month by month, as new circumstances arise ; 
and finally, who are studying, not gunnery, nor machinery, 
nor construction, nor fleet-tactics alone, but the science of 
WAB, in all its bearings, as an actual, living, and, above all, 
as a growing science. In short, the direction of naval opera- 
tions, like that of military operations, should be entrusted 
to a previously-trained and previously-equipped General 

Now, in 1861, the navy had no general staff. Staff-work 
was a branch of naval science as uncultivated as the attack 
and defence by torpedoes ; nor did it occur to the authorities 
at the time that a staff might be created. So they set about 
to find a substitute. By one of those fortunate accidents, 
which lead our happy-go-lucky nation to fall on its feet, 
when it has come unprepared upon a crisis, a man had about 
this time come forward, in connection with the relief -expedi- 
tions to Fort Sumter, who was fitted, as nearly as any one man 
could be, to take charge of the work. This man was Captain 
Gustavus V. Fox. It may be said in passing that an accident 
of this kind cannot be counted on, nor can it justify the ab- 
sence of preparation, when preparation is so simple and easy 
— in war nothing must be left to chance. In addition to his 
natural attainments, which were' exceptional. Fox was a man 
of varied experience, having passed eighteen years in the navy, 


during wHcb. he had served in sMps-of-war, in the Coast Sur- 
vey, and in command of mail-steamers. Five years before 
the war he had resigned, and had engaged in business. He 
therefore started in his career as Assistant Secretary with a 
grasp of the situation, and a capacity to meet it, that could 
be found in few men at that time, either outside the service 
or in it. To say that he became Assistant Secretary does not 
define his position. He was anything but an As'sistant Secre- 
tary. He was really the Chief of Staff ; or rather he was the 
whole general staff in person. Of course he could not per- 
form all the details of his work himself, and as he had not at 
command a previously-trained body of staff-officers, he made 
judicious use of the material at his disposal by the creation 
of temporary boards. One board was organized, composed 
of Captains Dupont and Davis, Major Barnard of the Engi- 
neers, and Professor Bache, to report on the coast of the 
enemy, its points of access and its defences. Here the ex- 
ceptional character of the war led to the selection of excep- 
tional persons to give the information necessary for intelli- 
gent operations ; for, as the enemy's coast was also our own, 
no one could be better informed about its accessibility and 
defences than the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and 
the engineer who had built the forts. Similarly another 
board, composed of Commodores Smith and Paulding, and 
Captain Davis again, was appointed to examine plans for 
ironclad vessels. The board modestly stated in its report 
that it approached the subject "with diffidence, having no 
experience and but scanty knowledge in this branch of naval 
architecture." It was composed of extremely able men, and 
their conclusions were formed under the circumstances with 
promptness and judgment. Yet the report of the board was 
only made September 16, five months after the war may be 
said to have begun, and six weeks after the Act of Congress 


authorizing the expenditure for the purpose of building iron- 
clads. A properly-organized general staff in ■working opera- 
tion would have had every plan that could be presented 
thoroughly examined and passed upon before Congress was 
even in session ; and the contracts should have been ready 
for signature on the day after the appropriation was made. 
The importance of time, even in a war as loosely conducted 
and as long drawn out as that of the Bebellion, has no better 
illustration than in the case of the Monitor. Congress as- 
sembled July 5 ; a month later it passed the appropriation ', 
in six weeks the board reported; three weeks afterward 
the contract for the Monitor was signed ; and, after all this 
deliberation and discussion, had the Monitor's arrival in 
Hampton Eoads been postponed by one single day, by the 
infinitesimal space, considering the length of preparation, of 
twenty-four hours, she would have found little in the shape 
of a fleet to need her protection. 

It is a common mistake to point to our experience in 1861 
to show that a navy can be prepared for action at short no- 
tice. It is supposed that, because the Government came out 
victorious in the end in its naval operations, without having 
made any preparation beforehand, it will always be safe to 
postpone measures looking to war until the war is upon us — 
the supply of a large body of trained officers, the selection 
of the ablest men for the higher grades, the establishment 
and training of a general staflf, the organization of reserves, 
the construction of modern vessels. It is true that a partial 
substitute for all these requisites of an efficient force was 
secured before the war was over; that in 1865 there were 
7,600 officers and 50,000 seamen in the service, that the ablest 
men had come to the front, that a Chief of Staff was found 
in the person of the Assistant Secretary, and that the fleet 
had been increased from sixty-nine vessels to six hundred 


and seventy-one, two Imndred and eight of which had been 
built or begun while hostilities were going on. Perhaps, if 
our next war lasts four years, and if all the sea-board cities 
are not destroyed during the first half-year, we may do the 
same again. No doubt the Administration was handicapped 
at the outset by its imwillingness, for reasons of public 
policy, to take the offensive ; but even allowing for this 
delay, the fact remains that in the first six months — months 
during which, in modern wars, not only the most telling 
blows are struck, but the issue of the war is generally 
decided — all that could be done with the most strenuous 
efforts, and the greatest energy in the administrative head, 
was to collect our fragmentary resources and to discover 
the men who could make them available. Fortunately, we 
were fighting a Government that was destitute of a naval 
force. Had our enemy been a maritime power with a navy 
in the most ordinary condition of readiness, and with a com- 
petent working staff, it would have fared ill with us in the 
first summer. In our next war we shall probably have no 
such good fortune, and we shall learn to our cost the fatal 
result of procrastination. 

It is idle to suppose, in face of the changes that mechani- 
cal science is making every year in our daily lives, that the 
materials of naval warfare wiU remain long at any given 
stage of development. Progress will go on, and the only 
way in which a naval force can be kept up which shall be 
equal to the barest necessities of the country is by a con- 
stant adaptation of fleets and armaments to the new demands 
of modern war. Objectors may say that if changes are so 
rapid, new constructions will shortly be superseded by 
newer ones. But science advances, whether Governments 
wish it or not ; and if the navy is to be kept up at all, it 
must be kept up to date. New instruments of warfare can- 


not be manufactured in a day ; nor can oflcers be expected 
to use them to advantage when they have had no previous 
opportunity to practise their use. " Our occupation," ■wrote 
Admiral Jurien de la Gravifere, shortly after the war, " was 
formerly an instinct ; now it is a science." The mastery 
of a science requires study ; but while war is going on, men 
have little time to think, much less to study. They can 
only use as best they may the new tools that are put into 
their hands, if their government has not given them modem 
tools beforehand. Even admitting, though it should never 
be admitted for a moment, that it is too much to ask that 
provision should be made for keeping the material in the 
forefront of scientific progress, there is at least a limit to 
the distance which it may be allowed to fall in the rear. If 
we must be out of date, it is better to be four years behind 
the times than to be twenty years behind. 

It is hard to see how the advocates of a policy of procras- 
tination can reiterate the old arguments about the success 
of our naval operations in the war, to justify inaction. It 
was not really a naval war, for there was hardly a naval 
enemy. There were three or four cruisers at sea, some of 
which were captured or destroyed after having obliterated our 
commerce, and one of which, at least, never was captured. 
There was an extemporized fleet here and there, made up of 
anything that came to hand, such as drove the blockading 
squadron from the Head of the Passes. There was one 
steam-frigate that had been raised out of the water, and 
made in some sense a modem war vessel, which played 
havoc with her antiquated opponents, and for a month kept 
the force at Hampton Roads at bay. There were other 
ironclads which had been fitted out under almost every dis- 
advantage that circumstances could create, and which had a 
short career at various points. In coping, not with this 


force, for it could hardly be called a force, but -with the sim- 
ple obstruction of natural causes, the navy, as soon as it ob- 
tained any suitable ships, maintained an extensive blockade, 
and captured many vessels ; it occupied several points on 
the coast, but only three of them in the first year ; it was 
compelled to postpone attacking others until years had 
been spent in making them impregnable ; and it cruised in 
the dark after the commerce-destroyers, without adequate 
sources of intelligence or unity of direction. In the first 
sis months, the enemy had few powerful forts, and fewer 
torpedoes ; his navy hardly existed ; and yet all that could 
be done was to effect an entrance at Hatteras Inlet, and to 
establish a blockade that during this period came near the 
suspicion of being fictitious, except at a few of the principal 
ports. If a navy can be built to order after a war begins, 
how did it happen that with unheard-of efforts there was not 
an adequate force afloat in September, 1861, to enter every 
Southern port ? 

The cause did not lie in the officers. Such faults as they 
had were faults, not of the men, but of the system — a system 
which ignored the cardinal principle of naval policy, that a 
navy must always be maintained in a condition of readiness 
for instant war. Neither in its central organization, nor in 
the number and mode of advancement of its personnel, nor 
in the character of its ships, did it approach such a condi- 
tion. Even the bravery, endurance, and energy of its ofB- 
cers, and the capacity shown in its direction during the war, 
in the face of extraordinaiy obstacles, cannot blind us to the 
fact that the work would have been better and more qaiokly 
done under a better system — a system which should utilize 
the long intervals of peace to prepare, with the utmost thor- 
oughness, for the sudden emergency of war. 


Vessbo^s of the United States Navy, March 4, 1861. 
In CoMMrssioN. 

No. of 





Sailing-frigates • 



Coast of Brazil. 

Home Squadron (Pensacola). 


Home Squadron (returning 
from Vera Cruz). 

Constellation . . , 

Coast of Africa. 


Home Squadron (Vera Cruz). 


Coast of Africa. 


Sailing-sloops - 

St. Mary's 



Coast of Africa. 

John Adams 

East Indies. 


East Indies. 

St. Louis 

Home Squadron (Fensaoola). 


Store-ships (sails) - 





New York. 

New York. 


San Jacinto . . . 

Coast of Africa. 




Screw-sloops (1st - 


Home Squadron (Pensacola). 



East Indies. 



Susquehanna . . . 



Side-wheel steamers. . ■ 


Home Squadron (returning 
from Vera Cruz), 




Coast of Africa. 

Narragansett . . . 


, Iroquois 





Screw-sloops (2d -{ 

1 Wyoming 



East Indies. 


Home Squadron (returning 
from "Vera Cruz). 


Coast of Brazd. 


Home Squadron (Pensacola). 


New York. 


Screw-steamers (33 , 

New York. 


Coast of Africa. 

Mystic ........ 

Coast of Africa. 


Lake Erie. 

Coast of Brazil. 


East Indies. 







Available, but not in Commission. 

No. of 










New York. 

Brandy wine 

New York. 


Sailing-frigates - 

St. Lawrence . . . 








New York. 



Jamestown ..... 


German town . .. 



Sailiug-sloops -{ 




San Francisco. 


Portsmouth, N. H. 


Portsmouth, N. H. 



Brigs - 


Boston . 



New York. 




New York. 




Screw-frigates ■ 






New York, 


Screw -sloop (Ist class). , 




Side-wheel steamer 




Side-wheel steamer (3d 1 
class). f 

Water Witch 




John Hancock.. 

San Francisco. 


Pennsylvania , , . 

Keceiving ship, Norfolk, 


In ordinary, Norfolk. 


Receiving ship, Boston, 

North Carolina. . 

Receiving ship, New York, 


Ships- of- the-line - 


In ordinary, Norfolk. - 

New Orleans 

On the stocks, Sackett's H'br. 


On the stocks, Kittery. 


On the stocks, Boston. 


New York 

On the stocks, Norfolk. 


Practice ship, Annapolis. 


Sailing-frigates -? 

United States. . . 

In ordinary, Norfolk. 


In ordinary. Norfolk. 


Permanent store and 


Mare Island, California. 







Permanent store and 







Side-wheel vessel 

Floating battery (steam) 

Fulton .... 

In ordinary, Pensacola. 
Unfinished, Hoboken, 








but not in 



Sailinff-veRBels : 

















Steamers ; 


Screw-sloops, let class 

Side-wbeelsteamerR, 1st class. 

Screw-sloops, 2a class 

Side-wheel steamers, ^d class. 

Screw steamers, 3d class 

Slde-wbeel steamers, 3d class. 


Permanent store-ships 

Floating battery 













Total sail and steam 






Vessels Consteucted oe Peojected, 1861-65. 
Unabmobbd Vessels. 





Ammonoosuc Class. 
7 Hcrew-sloops : 

Ammonoosuc (Iowa) 

Bon Homme Richard 

17 to 19 1 





8,213 to 3,7131 





Never built. 
Sunk and flfter- 

Madawapka (Tennessee) 

Neshaminy (Nevada) 

Pompanoosuc (Connecticut). . 
Wampanoag (Florida) 

Idalio Class. 

1 screw-sloop : 


wards sold, 1872. 
Sold, 1677. 

Java Class. 

S screw-sloops, spar deck : 


Sold, 1872. 


On the stocks, 1874. 
Sold, 1875. 

Never built. 
Never built. 

Kewaydin (Pennsylvsnift). . . 

Minnetonka (California) 

Ontario (New York) 

Piscataqua (Delaware) 

Hassalo Class. 

2 screw-sloops, spar deck : 


1 The first figures under each claBS indicate the battei-y and tonnage as pro- 


TJnaemoeed Vessels— (7o««mMe(?. 






Contoocook ClauB. 

10 screw-eloops, clippers, eingle 
deck : 


Cotitoocook (Albany) 


Mauitou (Worcester)... . 


Mosholu (Severn) 

Pushmataha (Congress) . 




Kearaarge Class, 
4 screw-sloops : 


Oneida ...' -. 



Shenandoah Class. 
6 Bcrew-aloops ; 







Ossipee Class. 
4 screw-sloops : 





SerapU Class. 
8 screw -sloops ; 

Algoma (Benicia) 

(. onfiance 







Besaca Class, 
4 screw-sloops : 




Swatara .'. 


8 to 10 





8 to IS 


10 to 13 








S (average). 





1,367 to 1,533 




831 to 900 

Never built. 
Sold in 1872. 
Never built. 

Never built. 
Sold, 1877. 

Never built. 
Never built. 
Never built. 

Sunk, Yedo, 1870. 

Wrecked, 1S67. 

Wrecked near Aba- 
00, Aug. 23. 1862. 

Sunk (torpedo), 
Feb. 17, 1864. 

Laimched, 1869. 
Not built. 
Not built. 
Not built. 
Not built. 
Not built. 
Not built. 
Not built. 


Unakmokbd y-ESS'BhS— Continued. 





mpsic Class. 
S gcrew-sloops : 

7 to 12 








Sold, 1869. 




Sold, 1869. 



UnadiUa Class. 
23 screw-^nboats : 



Sold, 1869. 

Sold, Oct. 25, 1865. 

Sold, Nov. 30, 1865. 

Sold, 1867. 


Sold, May 14, 1869. 

Sold, Nov 30, 1865. 


Sold, 1866. 


Sold, Nov. 30, 1865. 


Sold, Nov. 30, 1865. 



Sold, Oct. 25, 1865. 


Sold, 1866. 
Sold, 1865. 



Sold, 1869. 
Sold, 1S65. 
Sold 1866. 


Sunk (torpedo), 
1865 ; sold, 1866. 


Sold, 1867. 


Sold, 1869. 



Sold, 1865. 
Sold. 1866. 

IHnta Class. 
9 screw-tugs : 






JHlgHm Class. 
2 screw-tugs ; 


Unarmoked Vessels — Continued. 






Ociorara Clans. 
12 aiae-wh'l stmrs, double-enders 



7 to 11 

10 to 14 




730 to 950 





Sold, 1867. 
Sold, 1867. 



Sold 1865. 

Sold, 1866. 

Sold, 1867. 

Port Royal 

Sold, 1866. 


Sold, 1867. 

Tioga . 

Sold, 1867. 

Sasnacus Class. 
87 side-wh'l stmrs, double enders : 

Sold, 1867. 


Sold, 1869. 

Ascutney .' 

Sold, 1868. 



Sold. 1865. 
Sold; 1866. 


Sold, 1867. 

Sold, 1867. 



Sold, 1867. 
Sold, 1867. 

Sold, 1868. 


Sold, 1867. 


Sold, 1867. 
Sunk ftorpedo), 

Sold, 1S67. 



Sold, 1867. 


Sold, 1866. 






Sold, 1867. 

3fofioitgo Clwss. 
7 side-wheel steamers, iron, dou- 
ble enders : 

Sold, 1870. 



Sold, 1869. 
Sold. 1S69. 


Sold, 1869. 


Unarmored Vessels — Continued. 





Wateree Class. 
1 side-wh*l steamer, iron, donble- 
ender : 




Wrecked, 1868. 


Sea-going broadside vessels (case- 
mate) : 







sold, 1867. 
Burned, League Is- 

Sea-going turret vessels : 



Kalamazoo Class. 

4 double-turret monitors : 

Kalamazoo (Colossus) 

Passaconaway (Mass,) 

Quinsigamond (Oregon) 

Shackamaxon (Nebraska) . . . 





Monadnock Class. 

4 donble-tuiTet monitors ; 

AgamenticuB (Terror) 



Tonawanda (Amphitrite) 

4 XV-in. 
4 XV-in. 
4 XV-in. 
4 XV-in. 
4 XV-in. 


Onondaga Class, 

1 double-turret monitor : 





Winnebago Class. 

4 double-turret monitors : 







Sold, 1874. 

Kickapoo (Kewaydin) 


Sold, 1874. 
Sunk (torpedo), 

March 28, 1865. 

Winnebago (Tornado) 

Canonicus Class. 

9 single turret vessels : 




Sold, 1868. 





Ironclads — Continued. 





Canonicus Class — Continued, 




Tippecanoe (Wyandotte) . . 

FdBsaic Class. 
10 single-turret veesels : 









Sangamon (Jason) 


Tawo Class. 
20 single-turret vessels : 

CascD (Hero) .' . . 

Chimo (Piscataqua) 







Naubuc (Minnetonka) . . . . 




Squando ^Algoma) 


Tunxis (Otsego) 



Waxsaw (Niobe) 



2 single-turret vessels : 



S single-turret vessels : 

Neosho (Osceola ) 



2 casemate vesBels : 



2 to 4 

2 to 7 




Sold, 1868. 




Sunk at Mobile. 











Sunk, Jan. 15, 1865 

Sunk, Deo. 6, 1863 





Broken up, 1874. 



Sold, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 



Sold, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1874. 


Broken up, 1R74. 


Sold, 1874; N. 0. 


Broken up, 1874. 

Broken up, 1874. 

Sold, 1874. 

Bold, 1874. 



Sold, 1873. 


Sold, 1873. 


Sold, 1873. 


Sunk, 1865. 


Sold, 1865. 


Sold, 1865. 


Sold, 1868. 













Captured in 1863. 
Sunk in 1863. 
Sunk in 1862. 


Instructions fbom Flag-Officer Goldsborough to Offi- 
cers Commanding Blockading Vessels. 

All officers commanding vessels employed on blockading eervice belonging to tbe 
squadron under my command, are to be governed by the following general direc- 
tions in the diachiirge of their duties : 

1. Duly notify neutrals of the declaration of the blockade, and give to it other- 
wise all the publicity in your power. 

2. The blockade must be strict and absolute, and only public armed vessels of 
foreign powers are to be permitted to enter the ports which are placed in a state 
of blockade. 

3. Protect our commerce from the depredations of privateers, and, as a matter 
of course, capture them and all other vessels of the enemy whenever you can do 
so without being seduced away from your station, 

4. A lawful maritime blockade requires the actual presence of an adequate force 
stationed at the enti'ance of the port, sufficiently near to prevent communication. 
The only exception to this rule arises out of the occasional temporary absence of 
the blockading vessels, produced by accident, as in the case of a storm, which 
does not suspend the legal operation of a blockade, and to take advantage of such 
an accidental absence is a fraudulent attempt to break tbe blockade, and will 
justify the application of penalties. 

5. A neutral or foreign vessel, proceeding toward the entrance of a blockaded 
port, is not to be captured or detained if she shall not have received previously 
from one of the blockading squadron a special notification of the existence of the 
blockade. This notification must be inserted in writing on the register and mus- 
ter-roll of the neutral vessel by the cruiser which meets her, and it should contain 
the announcement, together with statements of the day and the latitude and 
longitude in which it was made. 


6. Until the ports are closed by proclamation (that is, declared to be no longer 
ports of entry) the warning just mentioned is to be continued to vessels instead of 
capturing at once, as will be th.e case when they come to be so closed. 

7. Vessels leaving guarded insurgent ports without legal clearances are to be 
seized and sent in for adjudication. If it be claimed that there is not an efEective 
blockade, and therefore that they are entitled to depart, still they must not dis- 
regard our municipal laws and the requirements of the National Government. 

8. On the coast of North Carolina more particularly, there is an extensive 
scheme of deliberately concerted measures to evade our vigilance and disregard 
our laws. This must be broken up, and every effort is to be made to accomplieh 
the purpose effectually. 

9. Vessels with contraband goods on board, approaching any of the blockaded 
ports, or vessels that may have cleared for any of these ports, or be found, with a 
due warning on their papers, hovering about any of them, are all to be seized and 
aent in for adjudication. 

September 28» 1861. 


Flag -Officer, 


Adams, Charles Francis, 180, 190, 

Alabama, the, 150 ; built, 190 et 
seq. ; captures Ariel, 194 ; 
sinks the Hatteras, 195 et seq. ; 
armament of, 206; fights Eear- 
sarge, 207 et seq.; sunk, 213 

Albemarle, the, 97 et seq.; at- 
tempts made to destroy, 100 
et seq.; destroyed, 104 et seq. 

Atlanta, the, in Wassaw Sound, 
116 et seq. 

Bahia, neutrality of, violated, 187 
Bailey, Commodore Theodorus, 

commands Sast GuVz squad- 
ron, 123 et seq. 
Bankhead, Commander, commands 

Monitor, 79 et seq. 
Bayou City, the, 147 et seq. 
Beaufort, If. C, headquarters 

blockading squadron, 46, 94 
Bell, Commodore Henry H., 141, 

150 et seq. 
Bermuda, usefulness to blockade- 

ruimers, 37 et seq., 153 et seq. 
Blockade, its establishment, 27 et 

seq. ; prizes taken during, 44 ; 

vessels destroyed during, 44 ; 

effect of, 44 et seq. ; objects 
of, 83 ; Confederate view of, 88 
et seq. 

Blockade-runners, 34 et seq. ; deci- 
sions against, 38 et seq.; strata- 
gems of, 38 et seq., 91 ; de- 
scription and history of, 153 
et seq. 

Blockading squadron. East Gulf, 
123; difficulties of, 123 et 

Blockading squadron. Gulf, 131 et 

Blockading squadron, North At- 
lantic, 90 et seq. 

Blockading squadron, South At- 
lantic, 90, 105 et seq.; disposi- 
tion of, 115, 116 

Blockading squadron. West Gulf, 

British Government, warlike prep- 
arations of, 180 et seq.; viola- 
tion of neutraUty by, 190, 300, 
235 et seq. 

Brooke, Lieutenant John M., 22; 
restores Herrimac, 54 

Brooklyn, the, 11, 131, 173 et seq., 
195, 198 

Buchanan, Captain Franklin, com- 



mands Merrimac, < 
ed, 68, 76, 


Cape Feak River, 91 et seq. 

Chaplin, Lieutenant, bravery of, 86 

Charleston, S. C, blockade of, 34, 
84 et seq., 87 et seq., 107 et 
seq. ; attempts to raise block- 
ade of, 109, 111 et seq., 1.58 
et seq. 

Chicora, the, attempts to raise 
blockade of Charleston, 109 et 

Clarence, the, 186 

Clifton, the, 143, 144 (note), 146 et 
seq., 152 

Collins, Commander Napoleon, cap- 
tures the Florida, 189 ; his act 
disavowed, 189 et seq. 

Colorado, the, 121, 173 

Confederate Government, naval 
policy of, 168 et seq.; its agents 
abroad, 182 

Congress, the, 60 et seq. ; taken, 
64 ; burned, 65 

Craven, Commodore, commands 
Potomac flotilla, 87 et seq. 

Crocker, Acting Master, com- 
mands expedition to Sabine 
Eiver, 143 et seq. 

Crosman, Lieutenant, 184 et seq. 

Cumberland, the, 48, .53, 60 et seq. ; 
sunk by the Merrimao, 63 et 

Gushing, Captain, daring exploits 
of, 94 et seq., 101, 161 

Cuyler, the, 123, 135, 139 

Dahlgken, Admiral, 105 
Downes, Commander, 117 et seq. 
Dupont, Admiral, 90, 105, 115 

Ericsson, John, plans monitor, 55 

Pahbagut, Admiral, 90, 133, 141, 
145 et seq., 148, 150 

Florida, blockade of, 134 et seq. 

Florida, the, fights the Massachu- 
setts, 132 ; runs blockade of 
Mobile, 137 et seq. , 184 et seq. ; 
captured at Bahia, 187 

Flusser, Lieutenant-Commander, 
97 ; killed, 08 

Fisher, Fort, 90 

Fox, Captain Gustavus' V., 61 
(note), 66 (note), 234 et seq. 

Freeborn, the, 86 

Galveston, Tex., blockaded, 35, 

140 et seq., 143 et seq. 
Georgetown, 87 et seq. 
Georgia, the, built, 214 ; cruises, 

314etseq. ; sold, 215 
Goldsborough, Commodore L. M., 

60, 76 et seq., 90 et seq. 
Greene, Lieutenant S. Dana, on 

Monitor, 56, 69 
Gunboats built, 19 
Guns, naval, before and during the 

war, 3, 15 ; loss of, at Norfolk, 


Hampton Koads, blockaded, 47, 
82, 85 

Handy, Captain Robert, 12S, 131 

Harriet Lane, 143, 144 (note), 146 
et seq. ; captured, 148 

Hatteras Inlet, 90 

Hatteras, the, 150 ; fights Ala- 
bama, 195 et seq. 

Havana, a port for blockade-run- 
ners, 37 

Housatonie, the. 111 

Huntsville, the, 138, 136 

Ironclads at the outbreak of the 
war, 3 



Iroquois, the, 11 ; chases Sumter, 

Isherwood, B. F., Engiaeer-in- 

Chief, 49 

Jamestown, the, 64, 66, 77 
Jones, Lieutenant Catesby, com- 
mands Merrimao, 68 

Kearsakge, the, 205 ; armament 
of, 206; fights Alabama, 307 
et seq. 

Keystone State, blockades Nor- 
folk, 35; attacked by rams, 

Key West, blockaded, 35, 83 

Kittredge, Acting - Lieutenant, 
commands expedition to Cor- 
pus Christi, 143 

Laedner, Captain, 133 

Lee, Acting Rear-Adrairal, com- 
mands South Atlantic Squad- 
ron, 90 

Lee, R. E., the, 156 

MoCaulet, Commodore, 49, 51 ; 
destroys vessels at Hampton 
Roads, 51 et seq. 

MoKean, Flag Officer Wm. W., 
relieves Commodore Mervine, 

Maffitt, Captain, 137 et seq. ; com- 
mands the Florida, 184 

MaUory, Confederate Secretary of 
Navy, 22 

Manassas, the, 139 

Maps, the Blockaded Coast, 86; 
Hampton Roads, 50 ; entran- 
ces to Cape Fear River, 93 ; 
entrances to Charleston Har- 
bor, 106 ; passes of the Missis- 

sippi, 137 ; entrance to Mobile 
Bay, 133 ; Galveston Harbor 
and entrance, 145 

Marston, Captain John, 60, 67 

Mason, Confederate commissioner, 
seized, 177 et seq. 

Massachusetts, the, at Key West, 
35, 131, 133 

Matamoras, its importance to 
blockade runners, 37 

Mattabesett, the, 99 

Memphis, the. 111 

Mercedita, the, attacked, 110 et 

Merrimac, the, 4S et seq., 61 ; 
name changed to Virginia, 61, 
63 ; in Hampton Roads, 63 et 
seq. ; fight with the Monitor, 
68 et seq. ; repaired, 76 ; de- 
stroyed, 78 

Mervine, Commodore Wm., 84; 
commands Gulf Squadron, 121 

Miami, the, 98 

Minnesota; the, 60, 62, 65 et seq., 
82, 85 

Mississippi River blockaded, 132; 
passes of, 136 et seq. 

the,- 11,. 84, 121 et 

Mobile, Ala., blockaded, 35, 123 et 
seq. , 132 et seq. 

Monitor, the, buUt, 55; its con- 
struction, 56 et seq. ; voyage 
to Chesapeake, .58 et seq. ; at 
Hampton Roads, 67 ; fight 
vidth the Merrimac, 68 et seq., 
78 et seq. ; sinks, 81 

.Monroe, Fortress, 47 et seq. , 53 

Montauk, the, 216 et seq. ; de- 
stroys the NashviUe, 317 et 

Morgan, Port, 133, 189 



Morris, Captain, 187 
Morris, Lieutenant, 63 

Nahant, the, 117 et seq. 

Nashville, the, fitted up, 215 et 
seq. ; destroyed, 317 et seq. 

Nassau, port for blockade-run- 
ners, 36 et seq., 155 et seq. 

Navy, Confederate organization, 
etc., 21 

Navy, Union organization, 1-21 ; 
condition of, in 1861, 333; at 
close of war, 236 

Navy Yard, Norfolk, 46 et seq. ; 
abandoned, 53 et seq. ; partly 
destroyed, 53 

Neptune, the, 147 et seq. 

New Orleans, La., blockade at, 35, 
46, 133 

Newton, Isaac, Engineer of Mon- 
itor, 56, 58 

Niagara, the, at Charleston, 34, 84, 
131 et seq. 

Norfolk, Va., blockaded, 35, 46 et 
seq., 55, 71 et seq. ; sun-en- 
ders, 78 

Officers, naval, at commence- 
ment of war, 4 et seq. 
Oneida, the, 136 
Oreto, the, 183 
Owasco, the, 144, 144 (note) 

Palmetto State, the, attempts to 

raise blockade of Charleston, 

109 et seq. 
Patrick Henry, the, 64, 66 
Paulding, Commodore Hiram, 51 

et seq. ; bums Navy Yard at 

Norfolk, 53 
Pawnee, the, 11, 51 
Pendergrast, Commodore, 83, 84 

Peusacola, Fla., blockaded, 35, 46, 

133 et seq., 133 
Pensacola, the, 11 
Ponchartrain Lake blockaded, 46 
Pope, Captain John, 128, 131 
Porter, Commodore David D., 90, 

Port Koyal, 105, 107 
Port Royal, the, 77 
Potomac River blockaded, 85 
Powhattan, the, 11, 114, 131 et 

Preble, the, 128 et seq. 
Privateers, the, 168 et seq. 

Quaker City, the. 111 

Raleigh, the, 77 

Rams, at commencement of war, 
8, 48, 61, 68 et seq., 97 et seq., 
109 et seq., 331 

Rappahannock, the, 313 et seq. 

Renshaw, Commander W. B., 
commands expedition to Gal- 
veston, 148 et seq., 149 ; killed, 

Resolute, the, 86 

Rhode Island, the, 79 

Richmond, the, 11, 138 et seq. 

Roanoke, the, 60, 63, 65 et seq., 
66 (note) 

Rodgers, Commander John, 117 et 

Rowan, Commander, 91 

Sabine River, its importance to 
blockade-runners, 142 et seq. 

St. Lawrence, the, 63, 66 et seq., 89, 

St Louis, the, 133 

San Jacinto, the, 177, 194 

Sassacns, the, 99 



Savannah, Ga., blockaded, 35, 85, 
87 et seq., 107, 109 

Selfridge, Lieutenant, 51 

Semmes, Captain, commands the 
Sumter, 173 et seq. ; com- 
mands the Alabama, 193 et 
seq., 209 et seq., 233 et seq. 

Shenandoah, the, bought, 318 ; 
cruise of, 219 et seq. , 380 

Ship Island, 133 

Smith, Captain Melancton, 99 

Smith, Lieutenant Joseph B., 61 

South Carolina, the, at Pensacola, 
35 ; at Galveston, 35, 140 

Southfield, the, sunk, 98 

Steamers, disposition at com- 
mencement of war, 14 ; pur- 
chases <■*, 17 et seq., 30 et seq. 

Stonewall, the, 231 

Stripling, Commodore Cornelius 
K., 133 

Stringham, Commodore, appointed 
to command of Atlantic squad- 
ron, 83, 83etseq., 90 

Sumter, the, 173 et seq. ; sold 176 ; 
damage done by, 176 

Tahoma, the, 124 et seq. 
Tallahassee, the, career of, 837 et 

Tattnall, Commodore, assumes 

command of naval defences 

of Virginia, 76 ; sinks Merri- 

mac, 78 
Texas, blockade and coast of, 46 

Torpedoes, invention and early his- 
tory of, 3 et seq. 
Tredegar Iron Works, 33, 54 
Trent, the, ]77et seq. 
Tuscaloosa, the, 199 et seq. 

Union, the, blockades Savannah, 

Vandeebilt, the, 77, 203 et seq. 
Vinoennes, the, 128, 130 et seq. 

Wachdsett, the, captures the 
Florida, 188, 803 

Ward, Commodore Jas. H., 85 et 
seq.; killed, 88 

Water Witch, the, 123, 128 et seq. 

Weehawken, the, captures the At- 
lanta, 117 et seq. 

Westfield, the, 143, 144 (note) ; 
146 et seq. ; destroyed, 150 

Wilkes, Captain, 140 ; seizes Ma- 
son and Slidell, 177 et seq. 

Wilkes, Captain Chas., commands 
flying squadron, 301 ; relieved 
of command, 303 et seq. 

Wilmington, 85, 87 et seq. ; harbor 
of, 91, 93 et seq. 

Winslow, Lieutenant Francis, 138 
et seq., 135 

Worden, Lieutenant John L., 
commands Monitor, 56, 67 et 
seq. ; wounded, 71, 75 (note) ; 
commands Montauk, 316 

Wyalusing, the, 99 


THE WORK OF THE NAVY in the Suppression of the Rebellion 
was certainly not less remarkable than that of the Army. The 
same forces which developed from our volunteers some of the finest 
bodies of soldiers in military history, were shown quite as wonderfully 
in the quick growth — almost creation— of a Navy, which was to cope, 
for the' first time, with the problems of modern warfare. The facts 
that the Civil War was the first great conflict in which steam was the 
motive power of ships ; that it was marked by the introduction of 
the ironclad ; and that it saw, for the first time, the attempt to blockade 
such a vast length of hostile coast — will make it an epoch for the 
technical student everywhere. For Americans, whose traditions of 
prowess a.t sea are among their strongest, this side of the four years 
struggle has an interest fully equal to the other — perhaps even -with 
the added element of romance that always belongs to sea lighting. 

But while the Army has been fortunate in the number and character 
of those who have contributed to its written history, the Navy has been 
comparatively without annalists. During a recent course of publications 
on the military operations of the war, the publishers were in constant 
receipt of letters pointing out this fact, and expressing the wish that a 
complete naval history of the four years might be written by competent 
hands. This testimony was hardly needed to suggest the want ; but it 
was a strong encouragement to ask the co-operation of naval officers in 
supplying it. An effort made in this direction resulted in the cordial 
adoption and carrying out of plans by which Messrs. Charles 
Scribner's Sons are enabled to announce a work of the highest 
authority and interest, covering this entire field. Under the title of 


They will publish, during the Spring, in quick succession, the following 
three volumes, giving the whole narrative of Naval Operations from 
1861 to 1865. 

I.— The Blockade and the Cruisers. 

By Professor J. Russell Soley, U. S. Navy. [Now Ready.'\ 
II.— The Atlantic Coast. 

By Rear-Admiral Daniel Ammen, U. S. Navy. 
III.— The Quif and Inland Waters. 

By Commander A. T. Mahan, U. S. Navy. 

They will be duodecimos, uniform in size with the volumes 
of the Series of " Campaigns of the Civil War," and will con- 
tain maps and diagrams prepared under the direction of the 
authors. The price per volume will be $1.00. 

743 AND 745 Broadway, New York. 


publish, under the general title of 

The campaigns of the CIVIL WAR, 

A Series of volumes, contributed by a number of leading 
actors in and students of the great conflict of i86i-'65, with 
a view to bringing together, ' for the first time, a full and 
authoritative military history of the suppression of the 

The final and exhaustive form of this great narrative, in which every 
doubt shall he settled and every detail covered, may be a possibility 
only of the future. But it is a matter for surprise that twenty years 
after the beginning of the Rebellion, and when a whole generation 
has grown up needing such knowledge, there is no authority which is 
at the same time of the highest rank, intelligible and trustworthy, and 
to which a reader can turn tor any general view of the field. 

The many reports, regimental histories, memoirs, and other materi- 
als of value for special passages, require, for their intelligent reading, 
an ability to combine and proportion them which, the ordinary reader 
does not possess. There have been no attempts at general histories 
which have supplied this satisfactorily to any large part of the public. 
Undoubtedly there has been no such narrative as would be especially 
welcome to men of the new generation, and would be valued by a very 
great class of readers ; — and there has seemed to be great danger that 
the time would be allowed to pass when it would be possible to give 
to such a work the vividness and accuracy that come from personal 
recollection. These facts led to the conception of the present work. 

From every department of the Government, from the officers of the 
army, and from a great number of custodians of records and special infor- 
mation everywhere, both authors and publishers have received every aid 
that could be asked in this undertaking ; and in announcing the issue of 
the work the publishers take this occasion to convey the thanks which 
the authors have had individual opportunities to express elsewhere. 

The volumes are duodecimos of about 250 pages each, 
illustrated by maps and plans prepared under the direction 
of the authors. 

The price of each volume is $1.00. 

TAe following volumes are now ready : 

I. — The Owfhreak, of Hebellion. By John G. Nicolay, 
Esq., Private Secretary to President Lincoln ; late Consul- 
General to France, etc. 

A preliminary volume, describing the opening of the war, and covering the 
period from the election of Lincoln to the end of the first battle of Bull Run. 

II,— From Fort Henry to Corinth. By the Hon. M. 
F. Force, Justice of the Superior Court, Cincinnatti; lale 
Brigadier- General and Bvt. Maj. Gen'l, U.S.V., commanding 
First Division, 17th Corps: in 1862, Lieut. Colonel of the 
20th Ohio, commanding the regiment at Shiloh ; Treasurer of 
the Society of the Army of the Tennessee. 

The narrative of events in the West from the Summer of 1861 to May, 1862 ; 
covering the capture of i^ts. Henry and Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh, etc., etc. 

III. — The Peninsula. By Alexander S. Webb, LL.D., 
President of the College of the City of New York : Absistant 
Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, i86i-'62; Inspector 
General Fifth Army Corps; General commanding 2d Div., 
2d Corps ; Major General Assigned, and Chief of Staff, Army 
of the Potomac. 

The history of McCIellan^s Femnsula Campaign, from his appointment to the 
end of the Seven Days^ Fight. 

IV. — The Army under Pope. By John C. Ropes, Esq., 
of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society, etc. 

From the appointment of Pope to command the Army of Virginia, to the appoint- 
ment of McClelian to the general command in September, 1862 

v.— The Anfiefam anif, Fredericksburg By FRANcii 
WlNTHROP Palfrey, Bvt. Brigadier Gen'l, U.S.V., and form- 
erly Colonel 20th Mass. Infantry ; Lieut. Col. of the 20th 
Massachusetts at the Battle of the Antietam ; Member of 
the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, of the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society, etc. 

From the appointment of McClelian to the general command, September, 1862, to 
the end of the battle of Fredericksburg. 

Fl.—ChanceUorsviUe and Gettysburg. By Abner 
DouBLEDAY, Bvt. Maj. Gen'l, U. S. A , and Maj. Gen'l, 
U.S.V. ; commanding the First Corps at Gettysburg, etc. 

From the appointment of Hooker, through the campaigns of Chancellorsville and 
Gettysburg, to the retreat of Lee after the latter battle. 

VII.— Th*- Armn of the Cumberland. By Henry M. 
Cist, Brevet Brig. Gen'l U.S.V ; A.A.G. on the staff of 
Major Gen'l Rosecrans, and afterwards on that of Major Gen'l 
Thomas ; Corresponding Secretary of the Society of the Army 
of the Cumberland. 

From the formation of the Army of the Cumberland to the end of the battles at 
Chattanooga, November, 1863. 

fill, — The Mississippi. By Francts Vinton Greene, 
Lieut, of Engineers, U. S. Army ; late Military Attache to the 
U. S. Legation in St. Petersburg ; Author of " The Russian 
Army and its Campaigns in Turkey in 1877-78," and of 
"Army Life in Russia." 

An account of the operations — especially at VIcksburg and Port Hudson — by 
which the Mississippi River and its shores were restored to the control of the Union. 

ZX. — Atlanta, By the Hon. Jacob D. Cox, Ex-Governor of 
Ohio ; late Secretary of the Interior of the United States ; 
Major General U. S.V. , commanding Twenty-third Corps' 
durnig the campaigns of Atlanta and the Carolinas, etc. , etc. 

From Sherman's first advance into Georgia in May, 1864, to the beginning of 
the March to the Sea. 

X.—The March to the Sea— Franklin and Nashville, 

By the Hon. Jacob D. Cox. 

From the beginnlnsc of the March to the Sea to the surrender of Johnston — 
including also the operations of Thomas in Tennessee, 

XI.— The Shenandoah Valley in 1S64. The Cam- 
paign of Sheridan, By George E. Pond, Esq., Asso- 
ciate Editor of the Army and Navy Journal. 

XII, — The Virginia Campaign of 64: and '65, Tlie 
Army of the Potomac and the Army of the 
James. By Andrew A. Humphreys, Brigadier General 
and Bvt. Major General, U. S. A. ; late Chief of Engineers ; 
Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac, 1863-64; commanding 
Second Corps, 1864-65, etc., etc. 

Statistical pecord of the Armies of the United 

States. By Frederick Phisterer, late Captain U. S. A. 

This Record includes the figures of the quotas and men actually furnished by 
all States ; a list of all organizations mustered into the U. .S. service; the streiigtU 
of the army at various periods ; its organization in armies, corps, etc.; the divisions 
of the country into departments, etc.; chronological list of all engagements', with the 
losses in each ; tabulated statements of all losses in the war. with the causes of 
death, etc.; full lists of all general officers, and an immense amount of other valuable 
statistical matter relating to the War. 

The complete Set, thirteen volumes, in a box. Price, $12.50 
Single volumes, . . . , . .1.00 

*!(;* The above books /or sale by all booksellers^ or will be seni^ ^ost-paid^ 
vpoti receipt 0/ price, by 


743 AND 745 Broadway, New York.